Internal e-mail problems force changes at AOLTW

When America Online and Time Warner merged last year, one of the things officials agreed to do was use e-mail products available within their own AOL and Netscape Communications Corp. units to serve the new company's approximately 90,000 employees.

Not anymore.

A host of problems caused by the e-mail software brought an about-face from executives within the New York-based company's nine divisions, who this week gave the green light for all nine divisions to scrap what they're using and go with the e-mail software of their choice.

Tricia Primrose, a spokeswoman for AOL Time Warner, said today that the e-mail software used inside the company since the merger was a custom-built application based on Netscape's mail program. It had been redesigned entirely as an in-house companywide product.

Since it was deployed after the merger, however, complaints began rolling in from unhappy users in AOL Time Warner's nine divisions, which include AOL, Warner Bros., Warner Music Group, Home Box Office and Time Warner Books.

"Unfortunately, there were some problems with it," Primrose said. "It didn't exactly meet their needs." Among the problems were difficulties receiving and sending large attachments that held graphics or other data-intensive files.

No decisions have yet been reached on what e-mail programs the divisions will use, Primrose said. Officials in each division will be free to choose from any of the products available, she added.

"It made perfect sense to try to do something for the various divisions" using the applications the merged company already owned, Primrose said. "It didn't work. What we want to do now is ... get the solution that works for them."

Analysts, however, were skeptical about the company's description of the problem, which emerged only after published reports appeared about the e-mail problems.

David Smith, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., questioned the details about the e-mail program the companies used following the merger. "Lots of other [companies] use Netscape mail to provide e-mail very satisfactorily," he said.

Mark Levitt, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., also said that Netscape mail server has been known as a good choice for reliable corporate e-mail. He said he wonders what AOL Time Warner might have done to cause such problems.

"What were they smoking to think that they could get every division user within their company ... to have their needs all met [by a single e-mail application]?" Levitt said. "They probably took a good product and did a poor job implementing it."

When told of those comments, Primrose reiterated her earlier statements. She said the mail program was based on Netscape and said that although Dulles, Va.-based AOL itself uses AOL mail for corporate communications, the company realizes it's not the kind of application companies can use for large graphics or data files.

Matt Pilla, a spokesman for Microsoft Corp., said that New York-based Time Warner used Microsoft's Exchange e-mail program before the merger, according to account representatives.

"We're happy to help AOL Time Warner migrate back to the Microsoft Exchange e-mail solution," Pilla said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Todd R. Weiss

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?