Software // Enterprise Applications
Commentary
1/7/2004
11:32 AM
Fred Langa
Fred Langa
Commentary
50%
50%

The Explorer: You've Got Problems, AOL

OK, not everyone agrees with me or with the many, many people who shared their AOL horror stories. I did get a small number of letters like this:

Contrary to your experience, AOL 5.0 has worked very well for me. And when I do call their Tech staff with questions they are extremely courteous, patient and helpful. AND I do not work for them or have any affiliation with AOL other than being a satisfied customer.
-- Jerre Haskew

But the overwhelming majority of letters and posts were from readers whose experiences with AOL 5.0 closely mirrored my own. Many of these were experienced users who know their way around a PC -- this wasn't a matter of user error, as some pro-AOL writers suggested.

Carolyn Johnson writes:

I am in the computer consulting business and one of the services that I perform is cleaning up the mess that people have made of their computer systems. One of the most challenging situations that I encounter is removing AOL 5.0 and restoring systems to proper operating order. This past weekend, a friend [called me] to "fix" her computer. It seems that her system had worked fine until she installed AOL 5.0.

Now she could not use her Outlook Express mail, retrieve attachments in AOL mail or access links sent in any of her incoming mail. She was encountering countless other problems, too numerous to list here. After roughly five hours of fighting AOL 5.0, attempting to restore her Outlook mail and correct the many other atrocities that AOL had bestowed upon her, I convinced her that the only alternative was to remove AOL 5.0 COMPLETELY. Since I am aware that "uninstalling" via the Add/Remove Programs function in Windows 98 does NOT remove all components of a program, I uninstalled AOL, then used the "Find" feature to locate any remnants of AOL 5.0. What I found was not "remnants"... the entire AOL program was still there! The list of AOL files and folders remaining after the uninstall was endless. To add insult to injury, AOL had placed an icon on the desktop AFTER the uninstall, "Try AOL Again." Absurd, to say the least!

After uninstalling and removing the "garbage" that AOL had left behind, restoring her system, including her dial-up and Outlook Express settings and connecting her to the MSN network, an additional two hours was consumed. The bottom line: it took a normal day's work to right the wrongs of AOL! I found that everything that Mr. Langa covered in his article, had been done to this system by AOL 5.0. AOL had literally taken her computer prisoner. My friend/customer is now extremely happy with her "new" computer system.

Am I "Anti-AOL?" Without a doubt! I do not believe AOL has a valid reason, or the right, to alter computer systems in the manner that they do. I remain perplexed at how they are allowed to continue to do this, without legal or moral retribution. And from the articles that I am seeing now, more and more people are getting wise to AOL and trashing their program, which is the smartest thing they could do.

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