Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 13/6/2002AOL's next client, 8.0, has slipped out in beta.

Thursday 13/6/2002

AOL's next client, 8.0, has slipped out in beta. Should we get excited? It includes wallpaper for IM screens, a la Yahoo! IMVironments. It has better printing for address books. It has mail signatures. It... no, I can't go on.

Ask an AOL user what they want, and you won't get that list of features. They want spam blocking, file sharing, video conferencing, software that doesn't make quite such a mess of their computer's networking and a user interface that doesn't look quite so much like the outpourings of a hyperkinetic teenager after drinking too much Jolt.

Perhaps I've missed this, but I find it hard to believe that the existing software has attracted as few security concerns as it has. It's a very big and patently very messy communicating application, which sinks its tendrils deep into your operating system. It's been around forever. There must, logically, be a load of holes in it -- but because it doesn't have a corporate image, I guess it doesn't garner attention. Yet it has millions of users, many on broadband, and does turn up on company computers all the time. There are certainly many people bashing away at it, but they seem to concentrate on annoying other users on Instant Messenger and coming up with ways to steal passwords.

I await the first really serious security hole with interest. It's not fair that Microsoft should get all the fun.