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AOL's AIM Today Beta: When Good Web Apps Go Bad

Are you an AIM user? Have you been sucked into AOL's AIM Today beta? How much do you hate it? Yeah, me too. AOL has apparently forgotten that instant messaging is supposed to be about communication. It's thrown out the buddy list and chat window, and now pushes you into a schlock celebrity-scandals-and-ads portal page that is some marketing guy's twisted take on the social Web. I don't want Naomi Watts or a thousand new best friends. I want
Are you an AIM user? Have you been sucked into AOL's AIM Today beta? How much do you hate it? Yeah, me too. AOL has apparently forgotten that instant messaging is supposed to be about communication. It's thrown out the buddy list and chat window, and now pushes you into a schlock celebrity-scandals-and-ads portal page that is some marketing guy's twisted take on the social Web. I don't want Naomi Watts or a thousand new best friends. I want my budddy list. How do you do IM in the new AIM? Beats me.Don't get me wrong. I've been an AIM Express user a long time -- why install something when you can just run it from the Web? -- and I don't begrudge AOL the chance to stick a couple of ads under my nose while it starts up. I realize that's the price I pay for the service. What used to be one window had become two -- the buddy list and the ad page/portal. It was a reasonable price to pay. I could close the ad page and use AIM like always.

But this new AIM Today beta leaves me bumfoozled. Where did my buddy list go? How do I actually start an IM session with anybody? Everything I know about AIM is lost in a sea of MySpace-wannabe "your page, your world" junk.

In the past I've reviewed a couple of AIM-compatible IM services. When I remember the URLs and make sure they still connect me to AIM without going over to the dark side, I'll let you know what they are. That looks like the best way to get AIM back -- use it through a third-party application.