Why the hell would anyone actually use AOL???

Why the hell would anyone actually use AOL???

Summary: Just a brief rant here, folks...I talked a while ago about my superintendent and how he used AOL extensively for calendaring and communication.


Just a brief rant here, folks...I talked a while ago about my superintendent and how he used AOL extensively for calendaring and communication. Basically, I came to the conclusion that if we don't provide users with a range of tools to satisfy their needs, they'll bring crappy ones onsite that we'll need to support (like AOL).

I didn't realize just how horrific AOL was, though, until I started poking around with it tonight. The other day, I simply installed it on my machine (and was promptly billed $24.99 for my "free trial"), figured out where it was running into troubles with our new firewall, updated the firewall configuration, and then went on with my life.

Tonight, before I uninstalled it (and attempted to get my money back), I figured I'd give it a go-round. Ever used AOL before? Don't bother. It's slow, there are windows everywhere, the settings are buried in a large index, the cartoonish buttons aren't intuitive and yet still manage to insult our intelligence, and the whole thing made other applications on my system sluggish.

This is running under Windows Vista on a MacBook with 4GB of RAM and a 2GHz Core 2 Duo. Even Windows Vista is fast on this machine. AOL 9.5 shouldn't be a problem with no other applications running, nor should the basic settings of this replacement browser portal dashboard thing be indecipherable.

That, of course, is what AOL is. It's supposed to be a replacement browser that takes you somewhere that meets all of your communication needs. I have something like that, too. It's called Firefox with a couple tabs open.

Do you realize that there are people on this planet who actually pay for AOL services even if they don't need the dialup services it offers? People with honest to goodness broadband who pay to have their computers run slower and access web services through in interface that reeks of Netscape Navigator.

Sorry, I know this has nothing to do with Ed Tech. Not a bloody thing. It just floored me that someone might pay for this miserable bit of software.

If anyone out there cares to admit it, can you explain why you might install AOL? Thanks in advance.

Topics: Software, Browser, Microsoft, Networking, Operating Systems, Windows

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Why install AOL?

    to piss me off >:|


    - Sam
    An Admin
    • At last, a legit reason.

      I haven't been able to find any other. "To piss intelligent people off," to paraphrase your response, makes more sense than any other heard to date.
      Dr. John
  • Because it's what they used 15 years ago

    and they don't want to lose their e-mail address.
    Michael Kelly
  • Everyone is just so eager these days

    to pronounce judgement on others because they make
    decisions different than you. It's juvenile. Instead of insulting
    people like your superintendent, why don't you just ask him
    what he finds appealing about AOL and see if you can find
    alternatives that he would find acceptable.
  • Uses AOL...

    For primary email address only. I have had it for 15+ years since AOL 2.0 dialup and have no reason to change it. I have other email addresses through my ISP (AT&T), gmail, and my website, but kept AOL because AOL.com should be around for a long time. Now do I use the AOL client... H3LL NO!!, IMAP to outlook for email or web mail when away from home/office computer. I use my AIM screen name but not on the AIM client.

    My Mother is another story. For years she insisted I install the AOL client because she was used to it and then complained her computer was sluggish. The AOL client and all its add-ins suck the life out of a computer even her dual-core/2GB Ram laptop. I finally broke down and showed her that she can access the internet through IE or FF and set her up with outlook and an IMAP connection. Once she saw how easy it was and her computer just ran better she is all good.
    • My favorite was the updates

      It asked you if it was ok to install them, but left you no alternative but to install them because they didn't have a no button. LOL
      library assistant
  • I found...

    One employee literally threw a temper tantrum when we returned her "broken" (slow) computer to her sans AOL. Apparently she's never heard of Google, Google Maps, or any of the dozens of popular "news dashboard" type homepage sites. And she didn't want to learn. "Everything I need is in one place with AOL." and that might be true. But those other things do it better, faster, and on the Real Internet. Frankly I'm surprised that AOL Instant Messenger is still so ubiquitous.

    Users' xenophobia is their own problem. I'll kindly show them how to use something better, but at this point having AOL installed on a machine is just an insult to its owner's intelligence.

    That said, my parents are still using Juno... sigh.
    • I know the feeling

      My mother was introduced to the Juno client 11 years ago, and to this day it's the only way she knows how to access her email. The limitations it presents are astounding; she complained to me that she couldn't view an E-card because Juno doesn't support Flash. I had to put the phone down for a moment to keep from groaning into it.
      • Finally got my mom off Juno...

        Bellsouth, before they merged with AT&T and returned to evil empire mindset, offered a basic DSL package for $10 a month, a whole nickel more than Juno dial-up. After a bit of campaigning, I got her switched over, taught her how to use Thunderbird, and never looked back. Thank you Bellsouth. Curse you AT&T.
        Dr. John
  • Chris Dawson is RETARDED

    Dude, hello? Are you a poser or what? Who uses AOL dialup? Well, usually folks that live in the midwest that do not have broadband access. Who else uses AOL dialup? Well, maybe the folks that can only afford it to pump out their resume and find jobs and can't afford the $50 month Fios.

    And then, Mr. ZDNET, AOL isn't just an ISP anymore as you do know. They are a media company, and has a business model based on ADVERTISING...as in ADVERTISING.COM. Ever heard of it son?

    AOL runs Engadget, MapQuest, TMZ, FanHouse, StyleList, Asylum, Lemondrop, AIM, WalletPop, DailyFinance, JoyStiq, GameGaily, Games.com, TheBoot, TheBoombox, PopEater, Pixcetera, Moviefone, BigDownload, BlackVoices, Winamp, and more! Check out MediaGlow.com or Platform-A.com to see what AOL is today and had been for 2 YEARS.

    It is you Chris Dawson that is stuck in the old skool. Get it together before you post crap that is lacking the full picture...but then again, you're not a real journalist, nor does ZDNET have over 100 million visitors a month like AOL does.

    Have a shirley temple on me dude.
    • You missed the point

      Is it just me, or did you not defend the AOL web browser in the slightest?

      He was saying it was a terrible browser, and asking why on Earth anyone would install it.

      Where exactly did he say AOL are a terrible company in general?
      • Look at the title...

        Maybe the guy should change the title to Why the hell would anyone use the AOL BROWSER.

        AOL is a lot more than what this guy's post suggests...it's misleading to suggest AOL in general (not the browser) does not offer useful and engaging products FOR FREE to the public. But, if you want to nit-pick, then by all means write a post about the browser...
        • jmanleyIM is RETARDED

          Wow... Only one tard stood up and got all butt-hurt because you called AOL out for what it is... Crap.

          Dude.. AOL SUCKS!!!.. Always has, always will... It was designed to reap money from techno-tard morons like you...

          Why would anyone use AOL??? For anything??? Past and present???

          Answer: They are MORONS!!!!!

          Grow a brain... Chris does an awesome blog greared for those of us that work in EDU... You don't like him calling it like he sees it with several paraghaphs of experience/story to support it....

          Blow it out your corn hole jmanleyIM.... You are a techno-tard... How the hell did you even find zdnet from AOL anyway? Broken banner take you here? Thought you were going to a site to give more money to that lawyer handling your inheritance in south africa? Or did you think this was a special ed blog... go back to "GameGaily" and sit on a "JoyStiq".... Sheesh... There isn't one thing you mentioned that is worth anything... It's effin AOL dude... You still sore about blowing your family's wad on AOL stock? Hoping it'll come back? Ain't gonna happen loser.
          • Actually

            before you go off on another tangent that will blow your blood pressure cuff off (take some prozac while you're at it bub), there ARE some people who do pay for AOL.

            I do, but that's because I keep it there in case my daughter needs to get online somewhere. She has no broadband or dialup or anything else, and only needs to get on a few hours a month. It's not that expensive, and she can't afford cable or fios or dsl. Unfortunately, her job requires that she have email contact - which is kinda hard to do when you don't have and can't afford the net.

            I used to have AOL on my computer because it was convenient to use the bulk attachment stripping utility called auto-AOL for graphic intense lists - I'd download all the attachments, run a scan and then delete the ones I didn't want. Beats going through all of them when you have limited time. Now that I have a 64 bit Vista machine, AOL isn't being used on it.

            I really think the two of you need to relax, lay off the coffee, and perhaps take a prozac or two.
            library assistant
    • Pffft

      I didn't know there were AOL trolls.

      How odd.
    • Still crap

      Even with all that it's still garbage poorly written and invasive !!
    • AOL

      The only reason AOL gets so many hits is that too many people don't know there are better alternatives.
  • Using AOL when you have broadband...

    One of my profs used AOL exclusively, despite having a broadband connection. She was paying $14.95 per month, ON TOP of her broadband fees. I kept trying to get her to wean herself off of AOL, but it was part of her comfort zone. The good news came when they terminated her account for spamming. Actually, she wouldn't know how to spam. Her account got hacked and it was used in spam runs. So, they terminated her account and she decided not to try and reopen it. She signed herself up on a Yahoo account and hasn't looked back. So, something good came from something bad.
    • No charge for Broadband users

      When I signed up for Roadrunner, I cancelled my AOL Dial-up and continued to use the software at NO expense. They do NOT charge you to use the software. I prefer the email format and my Home page here or I would just uninstall it! Some of you seem to not have known this. I have Webmail, but do not like the format.
  • RE: Why the hell would anyone actually use AOL???

    My mother has been using AOL dialup for years. Both my brother and I have been trying to get her to switch to broadband. Good luck! She 86 and fairly intelligent (and she worked for IBM in the past as a tech writer) but this one thing she is dead set against. We're going to visit in a few weeks and try to talk her into broadband or at least DSL and show her she doesn't have to lose AOL functioning.