AOL Enables Concurrent Logins in AIM

AOL has quietly switched on a new feature in its instant messaging network that allows users to be concurrently online from multiple locations using the same screenname. Previously, a user would be disconnected from their original AIM session if they signed in from another computer.

AIM is the first major network to enable such functionality, although Jabber offers a similar feature. But unlike Jabber, AIM broadcasts incoming messages to all active locations simultaneously. Messages will not be sent to idle locations or those set Away. If every location is inactive, messages will then be delivered to all.

According to a Web page offering additional information, the feature was primarily added to accommodate users signed into the AOL client who wish to instead use AIM for messaging purposes. The change follows a recent shift by AOL to move away from its bulky all-encompassing client software.

"The instant message you received was sent to notify you that your screen name is currently signed into the AOL Instant Messaging Network more than once," reads the notice. "This can occur if you log onto AIM and AOL on the same PC. This message is sent to help you manage your instant messaging sessions across PC-based and wireless clients."

AOL in August released AOL Communicator, a standalone application for e-mail and instant messaging targeted at broadband users. The company has been struggling to retain subscribers that have been leaving in droves for faster access through cable and DSL. Both AOL and rival MSN have worked hard to add premium services such as live video to attract such broadband converts.

Dial-up subscribers will also have more flexibility in the next revision of AOL. As first reported by BetaNews, AOL's upcoming "Tahiti" client -- currently in beta testing -- includes a separate dial-up application that precludes narrowband members from having to load the entire AOL client to connect.

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