AOL debuts new version of Web-based IM client

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The company's newest release will employ an all new Flash-based front end and tabbed IMs, though for now, AOL wants to know whether the no-frills direction it's taking with design will be acceptable to users.

AOL told BetaNews this afternoon that, since it is a first beta of its new client, some features will be missing. However, those features will be added back in subsequent betas, and the final product should be released sometime later this year.

"For now we wanted to see what people thought about the Flash-based interface and sleek new look," an AOL spokesperson said of the release.

Currently, IM forwarding and the ability to see buddy icons is currently inoperable. The known issues page also says that accessibility functions do not work, as well as the option to change your status to away if you are signed in to AIM from another location.

AIM Express is intended for use by individuals who may use multiple systems, or who prefer to have one less application tying up their home or office systems, or who may be less than impressed with AIM for Linux. While previous versions required Java to operate, the newest version is based on Adobe's Flash technology.

AOL said the application should work with most versions of Adobe Flash 9, although it recommended users upgrade to the latest build (for Windows,

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