AOL previews new e-mail software

America Online has begun testing enhancements to its Internet service, including a beefed-up version of its AOL Communicator e-mail software that plays multimedia files.

The product, called "Fanfare," is essentially an updated version of Communicator with new features such as media playback, a calendar and spyware protection. Fanfare is similar to Communicator but with more options on the navigation screen. For instance, a user can pull down a panel with Radio@AOL and its video player next to e-mail messages and instant-messaging "buddy" lists.

While Fanfare pulls more features from the AOL proprietary client onto Communicator, the company said the enhancements do not signify any changes in priorities for AOL. "We're adapting to how customers are using our services," AOL spokeswoman Anne Bentley said Friday. "This is not instead of (the AOL proprietary client). This is another benefit for the AOL for Broadband subscriber." Like Communicator, Fanfare will come bundled with AOL's "classic" online service for broadband users. AOL for Broadband costs $14.95 a month and represents the company's attempt to sell its service to the growing number subscribers leaving AOL for high-speed Internet providers.

News source: C|Net News.com

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