'Blue Hawaii' Becomes AOL 9.0 Beta

UPDATED Originally positioned as a small refresh update to AOL 8.0 Plus, the client software code-named Blue Hawaii and known internally as Bunker Hill has been designated a beta version of AOL 9.0.

Blue Hawaii features significant changes over its predecessor, most notably sporting a new interface technology code-named "Prescott Skins." Prescott enables users to select different themes, or skins, for the AOL client. AOL currently has three Prescott skins available; each called a "room."

Both MSN and AOL have been rushing to pack new features onto their clients in order to out shine the other service. AOL recently released AOL 8.0 Plus and Microsoft is currently beta testing MSN 8.5, a stopgap release on the road to 9.0.


AOL has remained vague about its plans for 9.0, only stating "throughout beta testing, versions and software undergo numerous name changes." But an e-mail to beta testers established Blue Hawaii's importance, confirming the software is "also known as AOL 9.0." The latest build of Blue Hawaii, numbered 4148.180, is installed to an "America Online 9.0" directory by default.

In addition to Prescott, the interface of Blue Hawaii has been polished with a new customizable toolbar. AOL members can select up to 15 favorite areas or Web sites to access via the toolbar.

"QuickViews" have been added to multiple areas of the Blue Hawaii client, allowing AOL members to quickly access additional information simply by hovering over an icon or buddy. For example, hovering over the Personal Finance toolbar icon brings up a QuickViews window containing stock quotes.

The AOL Mail client has been redesigned to function more like a standard e-mail application. Its expanded interface includes a preview pane and integrated filing cabinet, along with resizable mail columns. AOL plans to add new spam controls and support for sending HTML e-mail.

AOL's Embedded Media Player, code-named Dalai Llama, has been overhauled for Blue Hawaii. Real and QuickTime formats are now supported, with Nullsoft Video (NSV) support scheduled for future beta builds. Because it utilizes HTML and JavaScript, the embedded player can be accessed directly by any Web browser.

Although QuickTime is installed with Blue Hawaii by default, Real says AOL will continue to ship with RealPlayer, but not the company's newer RealOne client. "RealPlayer is shipped as part of AOL 9.0 beta," a Real spokesperson told BetaNews. "There is a smart installer that first checks to see if the consumer has a newer version of the player on their machine - if so it doesn't install our player because there is no need, if not it does install."

Blue Hawaii build 4148.180 includes QuickTime 6.3 Alpha 3, newer than both current Mac and Windows versions. The new release does not, however, support playback of Apple's AAC MPEG-4 audio format.

Instant messaging in Blue Hawaii functions more like AOL's standalone AIM client than AOL 8.0. The beta features voice chat, file transfer and the ability to send images to buddies. Support for "Multiple Personalities" has been added, enabling members to select different sets of icons, sounds and emoticons depending on their mood.

AOL 9.0 is likely to be completed by late summer in preparation for a public launch this coming fall. AOL has yet to comment on Blue Hawaii or offer any release timetable for the new client.

66 Responses to 'Blue Hawaii' Becomes AOL 9.0 Beta

  1. ezh says:

    Is it again based on IE?

    • nate says:

      Yep, it is still based on IE at this point. No Gecko to be found.

      • cybergenx says:

        Maybe AOL realizes what a piece of @#$% Gecko is.

      • poopie says:

        but it's cross-platform s#1T ...

      • AOLBeta11 says:

        First of all Gecko is a highly coded browser that is similiar to Mozilla and was designed by Netscape. It is faster than Internet Explorer and more efficient. So, your comment on Gecko was pretty "lame". The reason that AOL is still being shipped and tested with Internet Explorer is because of their relationship with Microsoft. Hope that helps for the people wondering about that issue.

      • Scipio says:

        Actually, AOL included the Gecko engine in CS2000 version 7. For a while they included it in Beta versions of AOL7, but then decided to remove it. Their motives for removing it are known only to them, but the likeliest reason is that they couldn't get it to work properly. They left in in CS2000-7, however, I suspect because they wouldn't mind driving these users over to AOL.

        CS2000 version 7 has a number of problems because of the Gecko engine, including an inability to work properly with some of the CompuServe forums. For that reason smart CS2000 users prefer CS2000 version 6.

      • AOLBeta11 says:

        All that is true as well. But, AOL has a relationship with Micrsoft and that is why testing of the Gecko never replaced testing of the regular IE enabled 7.0. It was a different test altogether.

      • RobertM says:

        AOL's legal agreement with Microsoft expired a while ago--the reason Windows XP does not come with AOL as past versions have. AOL is legally free to do whatever it wants, but I'm not sure they'd be willing to take that risk with Microsof, anyway--or maybe they are just a bit cautious at this point about introducing a standards-compliant browsing engine that doesn't support proprietary Microsoft extensions to so many people. I say go for it--it'll be good for the Web, but I suppose they have their reasons.

      • RobertM says:

        ...and I forgot the "t" on Microsoft. :) Oops.

      • ijramirez says:

        Those who think Gecko was not stable in AOL7+gecko must keep in mind that AOL was using an old (at the time) release of gecko. Gecko updates are usually released every 6-7 weeks. AOL+gecko was using gecko 0.94. After that (take into acount 6-8 weeks of development between releases) we had: .95, .96, .97, .98, .99, 1.0RC1, 1.0RC2, 1.0RC3, 1.0RC4, 1.0Gold, 1.01, 1.02, 1.1a, 1.1b, 1.1, 1.2a, 1.2b. 1.2, 1.21, 1.3a, 1.3b, 1.3, 1.31, 1.4a, 1.4b. 1.4RC1 (latest release). As you can all see the difference in quality, features btewee AOL7+gecko and the latest 1.4RC is monumental. Latest gecko 1.4RC1 is significantly faster and has superior web standards compatibility to then point that the official W3C, the consortion that estab lishes web standards has drop their reference browser (Anaya) and adopted Mozilla gecko as their reference browser implementation. IE6 is now rated at the bottom of all available bowsers.

      • LAMBERTJ08 says:

        Where I can download AOL 9.0 BETA... I'm french but I would like to test it...


      • nhavar says:

        The AOL/MS agreement expired some time ago (January 1, 2001)and talks over a new agreement failed. "AOL can use any browser technology they want in their client." -MS Jim Cullinan.

        Rumors of AOL switching to another renderer have been around forever. The screwed up thing is that last time I checked you could use any browser you wanted to with AOL just minimize it and open the browser of your choice (NS, Mozilla, Opera) unless AOL has put the clamps down on that feature.

      • AOLBeta11 says:

        Just beacuse there is not a written contract does not mean that there isn't an AOL/MS relationship. Did you notice the latest spam technology was released? It was sponsored by both AOL and Microsoft. That story was headline news on Microsoft.com for some time. They have been doing many projects together and I am sure more are in the works. And no, AOL has not "put the clamps down" on external browsers.

      • CPUGuy says:

        AOL and Microsoft are in FIERCE competition.

        And then, of course, there the whole thing where AOL OWNS Netscape, and should thus be using their own rendering engine, Gecko.

      • TheD2JBug says:

        Gecko is not a browser .. it's an engine used by Netscape , Mozilla , Phoenix , amongst others. It would have been cool if AOL became like more wrapped around gecko , but alas MS is king.

      • bcx200 says:

        P.O.S. or not, their AOL 7.0 with Gecko beta was the single most stable version they ever released. The 8.0 clients (particularly the "Plus" versions) took a major step backwards in stability and reliability. Plus the new 9.0 beta wrecklessly (i.e. failing to check for existing versions) installs a ton of useless crap all over the place; the latest 9.0 beta lasted about all of 6 minutes on my machine before it was nuked as "unacceptable".

        It's a shame they're not utilizing Gecko in their more recent versions.

      • TheD2JBug says:

        I had the AOL 7.0 w/ Gecko build and it was nice. I'd imagine it's better to have IE cause they've always had it and it'd be easier to stay the same.

        As per all the " you can get everything anywhere else on the internet " crowd , most of these features were POPULARIZED by AOL.IMs for example were supported on AOL long before they were popular on the Internet.

      • hkvitac says:

        do you mind sending me that AOL beta and let me have a try of it...? never tried a Gecko AOL client myself except the OSX version I used.

      • Osnr says:

        Um... popularization doesn't count. It's whether you can use them somewhere else or not. And have you ever heard of ICQ?

      • CPUGuy says:

        AOL did NOT popularize instant messaging.

        I'd say the first big player was ICQ.

      • AOLBeta11 says:

        First of all, AOL was released with instant messaging capability before ICQ even released a version number. "AND" if you didn't know this already, AOL owns ICQ and the Marabilis companies. So the only reason that ICQ has went its successful ways is of course because of...America Online.

      • CPUGuy says:

        ACTUALLY, AOL now owns Mirabilis, that is a recent AQUISITION.

        ICQ was released before AIM, btw.

      • AOLBeta11 says:

        I am sorry for my spelling mistake; Mirabilis Companies*. And you are also correct that ICQ was released before AIM. My comment (which is correct) was that AOL released instant messaing capability before that of ICQ.

      • CPUGuy says:

        You either really don't know your history, or you are a true AOL fanboy.

        ICQ was the first successful instant messaging client.

        Mirabilis was NOT owned by AOL until just a couple of years ago. AOL is not the reason that ICQ flurished.

      • NULLedge says:

        Could be the reason it got so bloated though ;)

        last install of an infamously "beta" ICQ (never a real release :p) it was a 40 meg im client after install... talk about bloat.

        And ICQ was bad ass way before AOL aquired it.

      • TheD2JBug says:

        CPU: AOL ( not AIM ) had IM capability before ICQ. the AIM cleint was originally designed to allow non AOL people to be on AOL people's buddy list. I think this goes back to AOL 2.5 or 3

      • CPUGuy says:

        That still does not change the fact (and is what I actually stated) that ICQ was the first popular IM service.

  2. Kompressor says:

    Personally, I think AOL just looks for excuses to come out with new version numbers.

    • AOLBeta11 says:

      Obviously you are not involved with testing the new AOL Clients. The Prescott theming has nothing to do with the UI for 9.0. The story posted on Beta-News is wrong. The Prescott themes were designed for the Kids and Teens area of the client. They are being tested inside the "Blue Hawaii" beta for that and only that. And, AOL always starts their new beta clients with a new UI and a few features. Different builds are released that contain more and more features. It's not just about a new look. Hope this helps.

  3. edlivian says:

    How did AOL get access to quicktime 6.3, when not even released on quicktimes website. Anyways, I am using the software, and it seems like they have packed in all these features, but all the features are not well desined yet, the preview pane and other windows are not formatted right yet. Also even at a high resolution, there seems to be little space on the screen to have windows open that dont block other windows.

    • AOLBeta11 says:

      They new AOL Mailbox is still in the Alpha stage although it is in all the new beta clients. Stay with AOL, there will be a lot of changes with the mailbox. I agree, it is lacking well, a lot. The Preview pane that is being talked about does not work with all resolutions and a lot of the technology that is being pumped into the new mailbox isn't in full effect.

  4. dzjepp says:

    If I remember the huge losses AOL suffered last year, makes me wonder why they are stil thumping new versions of their software. Instead of that, why not focus on improving the quality of the connection(s) and other similar areas?

    Somehow I fail to believe a new skin will drive back old customers by the droves.

    • AOLBeta11 says:

      AOL always looks to new versions to bring back net-loss. It hasn't worked so far. But with the many new features that have already been packed into "Blue Hawaii" there is a lot that can be advertised ;) and thats what its all about now-a-days. AOL is still on top regardless of all the AOL haters. There are a lot more people that are saying "So easy, no wonder its #1".

      • nhavar says:

        Could you please not regurgitate AOL ads in your posts. I've never met an AOL member that loved the service as much as these "advocates" that float around. Every one of the people (friends and family) that I know who've had AOL are either complacent (it's JUST good enough) or ignorant (lacking knowledge). Often they assume that AOL offers something that noone else does. They don't realize that everyone outside of AOL has chat and instant messaging, they don't realize that everyone else has fast connections and can dial in from almost anywhere. They don't realize that they too can have web space, e-mail, parental controls, etc etc etc outside of AOL. They don't realize that they can get it cheaper and faster.

        In fact AOL doesn't seem to market on the originality of their features but markets under a continual peer pressure focus. "Everyone's on it", "all my friends are here", "everyone I know has AOL", "I can get on anytime and talk to my friends" etc. Additionally they market under the flood approach - put the disc everywhere cereal, counters, near public bulletin boards, mail, magazines, games, software, books, toys. Show the commercials on every channel and always have a commercial on. I don't think there's a time of day that I can't flip through the TV and catch an AOL commercial in at least one pass through 65 channels. It has absolutely nothing to do with quality of product but with quantity of advertising and "free" everywhere.

      • AOLBeta11 says:

        Wow, you are obviously not in the business field. The idea is to advertise as much as possible and have people know about your product. That is what AOL does and they do a great job at it. To comment on the things you said about everything that AOL has other people have, faster and cheaper. I would like you to give me one example of an ISP that is as "easy" to navigate through as AOL. There are a lot of features in AOL that other ISPs don't have; a long long list. And about the "everyone is doing it" approach. Well, everyone is!! Most all teenagers in America either have America Online or AOL Instant Messsenger. It is there choice to either get the free IM application or the feature-filled AOL application for a fee. Everyone likes something different and has a different opinion. But it seems to me that you don't know enough about AOL by some of the comments you made.

      • CPUGuy says:

        uuuh, could you name some of these features for me?

      • browneyes22388 says:

        why are there so many hatas out there that dont like aol and probably never used it before! hello stop bein ignorant, i use aol 9.0 blue hawaii and i think its GREAT im always on aol and thats why i like it, its so much easier to be on one screen that has EVERYTHING, your web browser, im's, email etc. instead of being in so many different windows. Obviously the people who are talkin bad about it really dont know how aol is, because like i said, they probably never tried it before. So before you try and diss on AOL remember, uh which internet provider is at the top and has most users? that would be aol and i never heard of that other ICQ instant messaging thing, AOL was the first internet provider that popularized IM's, i never evern heard of the one you are talking about, so how could it have possibly popularized it? anyway i jus wanted to say, all the hatas that are posting stuff are just wastin their time, they're the SMALL percentage of people who dont like AOL and there are so many reasons to just LOVE IT

    • mhinck says:

      Are you referring to the one time accounting adjustment (writedown of Goodwill and other Intangible Assets) of around $45.5 Billion dollars that AOLTW reported as of 12/31/2002? If you are then I suggest you take an accounting course. EBITDA is a better indicator and last year AOL alone had $1.8 Billion in earnings and AOLTW had around $8.7 Billion. So far this year they (AOLTW) have reported $2.0 Billion in EBITDA of which $400 million is AOL.

      EBITDA = Earnings Before Income Tax, Depreciation, and Amortization

      • nhavar says:

        Hey great someone who understands accounting. Can you contact AOL about their accounting also considering that AOL has had to back peddle several times over the past couple of years due to "accounting irregularities" and "overstatements". The SEC is also conducting investigations into AOL/TW accounting practices (not the first time) in regards to it's advertising (including a $400 million transaction with Bertlesman among others).

      • AOLBeta11 says:

        I don't understand the "AOL Haters"...why take the time to go to every comment here and post a negative comment. It is pointless. AOL is one of the largest and most powerful companies in the internet industry. Al Gore did not create the internet and nor did AOL. But AOL created the concept of an "easy" way to navigate around the web and a lot of the features they have, have been adopted by other ISPs (MSN to name one...) Keep arguing, its your freedom, but you are wasting your time.

      • Osnr says:

        You don't know AOL, do you. It's an ONLINE SERVICE, not a Web browser.

      • AOLBeta11 says:

        Yes, I do know AOL, if you have read my posts it is obvious. AOL is not a web browser and I did not say it was. But the web browser if a big part of AOL.

      • mhinck says:

        If you are following the company you would realize that these are all things that occured at AOL before the merger. They aren't a reflection at all on the current leadership. Time Warner got pretty well raped and wraked over the coals by AOL and are paying for it now. The problems with these accounting adjustments is that the numbers are really bullshit to start with so it is hard to come up with a better bullshit number.

  5. AOLBeta11 says:

    I am glad that this is the main story for Beta-News as it affects the largest internet population. A lot of the comments that are here so far are expected and I am glad that issues are being cleared up ;) If there are any questions I would be glad to answer them.

    • GILT99 says:


      • Snag says:

        WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO? the better question is why are you still with AOL in the first place?

      • AOLBeta11 says:

        This website is to inform people about the latest betas not how to rip them from the actual beta testers. If you are an AOL customer try Keyword: Beta.

  6. Anenga says:

    Or does this "Blue Hawaii" UI look just like MSN's 6.0's UI? Hmmm.... it's not even that good either.

  7. BlueScreenJunky says:

    Ok, I can understand that some people find it user-friendly, like to read their mail, chat with their friends and read the news in their colorful AOL client, but I don't !
    So why do I have to install a 50 Mo program which takes forever to load and connect if I never use it ??? I think what AOL needs to get more customers is :
    -improve their connection
    -Allow user to install just a small connection kit instead of the whole client
    -Stop installing Real Player w/ AOL
    -Make e-mails accessible from any e-mail client.

    But of course that'll never happen since it's the whole AOL philosophy...

    • AOLBeta11 says:

      Quick Question: Why don't you just get rid of AOL instead of listing all the "features" that you don't like? Once again, there are a lot more people that do like the features than the ones that don't.

      • BlueScreenJunky says:

        I will ! But I can't do it right now, because I can only resiliate once a year in october, and I forgot o do it last year.

        BTW, I don't mean that AOL is particularly bad, or that these features are useless. I just say that some people like me don't want these features, and should have the choice to use them or not. Of course we can stop using AOL and use another provider, but I'm sure that's not what AOL wants :-)

    • Grandpas says:

      We need only a small client, light in memory. We don't want the AOL auto-disconnect and all AOL uneeded accessories
      but we want
      - a full access to emails (AOL pop/smtp servers)
      - a full access to newsgroups
      and a lot more

    • wnowak1 says:

      bah, i think aol should constantly bombard people with ads. In fact, it'd be great to have ads pop up before you even start aol...heck, might as well load ads while your windows is booting.

      freebsd 1337

  8. donpacman says:

    AOL distributes software with adware built in to it that causes pop-ups and uses a pop-up blocker as a selling tool?

    • AOLBeta11 says:

      AOL does not come with adware built in. Just like any other ISP you have the "option" of receiving AOL and AOL-Sponsored advertisements. That all can be shut off in your preferences. The AOL-Pop-Up-Blocker is in place to stop advertisements on the many other websites that have pop-ups.

      • nhavar says:

        That should probably be very clearly redefined. AOL's entire application is centered around advertisement. Hence the constant need to "update" the software which could be patching but most often is just the caching of ad content.

        AOL allows users to opt out of certain modes of advertisements. AOL does not allow users to opt out of ALL modes of advertisements. AOL generates a considerable portion of it's revenue from advertisement (why it lost 154 billion in value when the ad market tanked) both in selling space and providing user information to vendors and marketers. While it's true that one can opt out of these types of things typically that just removes your name from AOL's internal list (for a period of time). This does not remove your name from the lists that AOL has already provided third parties.

      • AOLBeta11 says:

        AOL does not sell any personal information including screenames and e-mail addresses as stated in their Terms of Service and License Agreement. Source: AOLTimeWarner.com

      • Osnr says:

        Look, I DON'T trust AOL. So I canceled and signed up for cable. If you're experienced with PCs, I suggest you do the same. It's FAST, and you're not limited to some blue piece of junk.

      • AOLBeta11 says:

        You don't trust AOL so you switched to cable. That's confusing because when you have an always-on connection you have an extremely larger chance of being hacked and your personal information broadcasted over the internet. AOL is a very safe place for children and adults alike, you have been misinformed.

      • CPUGuy says:

        Funny thing is, in most parts of the country, AOLTW is the only company that offers cable.

      • NULLedge says:

        its safe when its not opening holes so anyone with a malformed email can get into your account and change your password...

        that was a cute headline ;)

      • wnowak1 says:

        how do you know? give me your name and address, i promise I won't tell anyone. that is my disclaimer. It says I won't do it so I won't *rolleyes*.

        how do you think millions of spammers get your email? eh, guessing? well, one if you sign up for something stupid, and two, aol prolly has lots to do with it :) enjoy your crap software

  9. wnowak1 says:

    and so does saadam...

    you're just like them if YOU use aol.

  10. angelgirlindy3 says:

    There is a new TOD sign off test today which helped the mail format and make it smaller--but there is so much tweaking to be done and i hope this time they listen to the beta testers before making this one GM. The new download center is great, good format, like how it's laid out. You have alot of freezing in the 9.0 yet and switching names can be hard due to the fact you get bumped off. I've had problems with Realone player, illegal operations, but all in all this is a much better format, and i think will be alot better once all the bugs get taken out..the only thing that really bugs me is signing on and it goes from connecting #7 to #3 password check it's all backwards.

  11. chyllyphylly says:

    anyone know why i can get a copy to try out for myself?

    • angelgirlindy3 says:

      go to keyword and type in beta and it will take you to the aol beta download page

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