AOL launches AIM 5.5 with streaming video

AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) users can now challenge buddies to an online game and, as the competition heats up, exchange trash talk via a live video feed, thanks to an AIM software upgrade released by America Online Thursday.

Version 5.5 of AIM for the first time lets users conduct live video streaming conversations using their AIM connection, provided they have a Web cam, a microphone and a PC running the Windows XP operating system, said Jamie Odell, director of AOL's instant messaging product marketing.

This feature is compatible with Apple Computer's iChat AV 2.1 instant messaging service, which means AIM Windows PC users will be able to establish live video streaming conversations with iChat Macintosh users. iChat and AIM users already had the ability to exchange text instant messages. The iChat service is hosted on the AIM network, so the link between the two doesn't require an external network bridge.

Adding this video streaming feature and extending it to Macintosh users makes this "a fairly significant AIM upgrade," said Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research, which focuses on the messaging market.

The new AIM software also comes with a button for launching online games and inviting buddies to play, Odell said. If the buddy accepts the challenge, the game launches in a separate window in the gamers' computers. Currently, eight games are available, but the list will continue to grow, Odell said. "It's a natural extension of the social interaction you get with instant messaging," he said. The games are provided through a partnership with publisher Wild Tangent.

This games feature isn't earth-shaking but important to have nonetheless because it serves as a magnet for drawing users to the service, Osterman said. "If all your friends are playing games on AIM, then that's an incentive for you to sign up for AIM," he said.

Finally, AIM 5.5 lets users with mutiple screen names log onto the AIM network once and have all or some of their screen names appear online simultaneously. Previous versions of the software allowed users to log on with only one screen name, Odell said. If a user wanted to switch to another screen name, he had to log off and log back on under the other name, he said.

This is useful for people who, say, have an AIM screen name for work matters and another one for personal interactions, said Osterman. Providing that convenience to users is important, he added.

AIM 5.5 can be downloaded for free from

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments


Brother MFC-L3745CDW Colour Laser Multifunction

Learn more >




Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?