New AOL Software Dubbed 'OpenRide'

AOL on Wednesday made available the third beta release of its new software, which is now open to the general public. Formerly known by the code-name "Streamliner," the application has been officially dubbed: AOL OpenRide.

As previously reported by BetaNews, OpenRide will serve as key component in AOL's transition from ISP to Web services provider that subsists primarily on advertising. The software was designed with broadband users in mind and builds on previous initiatives to replace the company's aging AOL 9.0 client, recently chided as malware.

AOL also seems to have finally made a decision as to the future of its software business, calling OpenRide "the new version of AOL's client software." Communicator, "Fanfare" and AOL Suite were all developed for a similar purpose over the last six years, but eventually fell by the wayside due to indecisiveness within the company.

OpenRide is split into four quadrants: AOL Mail, AIM instant messaging, the AOL Explorer browser, and a media center. Each can be shifted around and maximized within the application's Window. The idea is to enable users to access a variety of service without jumping between multiple windows.

Speaking to the company's newfound push for openness, the version of AOL Mail in OpenRide supports not only the company's own inboxes, but also accounts from other providers. The media center links up to the e-mail and IM applications, offering a single place to view digital pictures, video and music.

Additional features are also in the works, such as integration with AOL's upcoming Total Care PC protection solution.

Along with the name change and Beta 3 release, AOL is making OpenRide available to all Web users. Previous betas were only open to AOL subscribers, but the company is now putting less emphasis on member-only service as it migrates away from relying on falling monthly subscriber fees.

AOL OpenRide Beta 3 is available for download now from FileForum. It requires Windows XP, but more operating systems are slated to be supported as testing progresses.

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