I’m asking because one of my primary annoyances is not having an all-in-one browser/IM/email client to usher ex-AOL users to once they’re ready to quit AOL. For years I’ve wanted to be able to say to them, “There’s this program named X that works just like AOL does, with instant messaging, email, and browsing all in one client, but it runs on a more modern layout engine, loads more pages the right way than AOL or IE does, and it’s safer to use and more enjoyable than AOL.”
Outside of SeaMonkey, there is nothing on the market that I know of that can replace not just what AOL has, but the way AOL combines it all into one client. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to just use Firefox and say, Yahoo! webmail and/or Outlook if you like, and to keep an AIM or MSN client on the computer for chat, but for people who have used AOL forever and like having all three tools ready-to-go in one browser, having a replacement for that would make it much easier for them to move away from AOL.
Updated 2-26-09 with a separate review of AOL 9.5 and again on 2-28-09.
AOL has a new desktop client in Beta called AOL Classic. What’s exciting about it is…tabbed browsing! Do I hear you ask, “What else?” That’s it. What else do you need? Don’t tell me you “need” stuff like browser skins and add-ons…hey, I remember when people used Gopher and Archie to surf the Web…this is really modern compared to that. AOL even did something with the menus. After I got down rolling around in strong spasms of tremendous joy at the thought of being able to open…new tabs…in a classic AOL client, I installed the damn thing. That ended even the flimsiest notion of AOL Classic offering me much more than deja vu of why I canceled AOL three years ago.
Republished 12-30-08. Last updated 12-03-09.
If you are getting error messages when you try to remove AOL from Vista, please see this post, or see this post for error messages on Windows 7. If AOL won’t shut down before you remove it, or if keeps running after you remove it, see this FAQ.
Note: This tutorial will also help you remove AOL OpenRide, AOL Desktop Search and AOL Explorer 1.5. Unfortunately, I can’t fit that many versions of AOL into the title of this post, or into the sidebar.
Thanks for the emails, everyone. I’m answering requests for help with AOL first and everything else when I can.
What follows is an email sent to me by an IT developer last week. There will be more emails on Anti-AOL soon so stay tuned.
I’d just like to comment on your site as something you rarely find. Must say I agree with all of the things you said…and grind my teeth at the same time. If you want you can add this as a post on your web site. Main message being: To all you AOL users; please, please don’t use AOL for online shopping. You have no idea what a nightmare it is to keep it working properly for AOL.
What’s wrong with AOL Desktop? Just about everything.
I tested AOL Desktop (also known as AOL Explorer – they’re more or less identical – update 5-21-08: the programs are offered as a combined download, but the similar name is for AOL Desktop Search, which was one of the downloads I chose; I regret the error) on dialup for a week, because I wanted to see what the broadband-unenabled go through these days, and the results weren’t pleasing.
Instead of writing about how today was Netscape’s last official day on Earth (I was never going to write about that, anyway), I’m bringing you a rare bit of good news – if you’re a diehard Netscape fan, that is (I know…highly unlikely): AOL is extending support for the Netscape browser until March 1st and one more update for it is on the way. I’m not sure why this is good news, since I happen to like the Netscape browser – and since it will still die (as in forever) in 30 more days. I take it as bad news topped with a tiny sprinkle of “better-than-nothing-I-suppose” – but fans of this browser seem to think this is “great news“, so I won’t argue.
I’ve had it with AOL’s software. Before anyone at AOL gets too warm and fuzzy that I noted recent improvements to how the software uninstalls, keep in mind I only download and install AOL to test it for people who want to get rid of it. That’s a lot of people: my most enduring tutorial for removing AOL has seen roughly 10,000 unique visits. For comparison, the site’s had over
100,000 (should’ve checked my stats first!) 136,000 uniques, but at least 60,000 of those were from Digg, so you can do the math yourself and see one sixth of regular (non-Digg) visits are to a page on how to uninstall AOL.
AOL 9.0 SE, the product that uses 2 processes that can’t be shut down unless you use Hijack This or blow your computer up, is back on my computer again. I can’t get enough of how badly AOL screwed this up. My processor is three times as fast as the one I had when I started writing this blog in 2005, my hard drive is three times as large, and my computer has four times as much memory, yet AOL still slows it down; other programs crash and the computer is unusable for anything except surfing.
Firefox has crashed twice since I installed AOL 9.0 SE a few days ago. POP Peeper, which I’ve used for about a year to collect email, also crashed twice. Now I can count in seconds how long it takes to launch an Explorer Window. They opened so fast before I installed this version of AOL, there was no waiting.
Here I am. I’ve put AOL 9.0 SE on a clean install of XP, on a much more powerful computer than I’ve ever had before, and it’s still killing it.
On AOL’s new 9.0 VR Help page, they tell you not to upgrade to AOL 9.0 VR because both programs are “the same.” Look at this crap:
Fortune Magazine says Time Warner, their parent company, is in talks with Yahoo! to buy AOL. A source at TW denies it, but Yahoo! sources say it’s true. Yahoo! lost their chance last year after AOL inked a deal to give Google 5% of revenue in return for ads and search optimization that AOL lacks over dynamically linked pages and other shortcomings. They haven’t made the how-to-cancel page much easier to find, either.
No Ads on Wikipedia, For Now … AOL Sells Call Centers; Others to Close
10-28-2006: Jason Calacanis, who runs Netscape for AOL and thinks he can wave his Magic Money Wand and buy the world, and even buy your humble author (page no longer exists ), tried to buy Wikipedia last week. He claims by not letting AOL put leaderboards on Wiki pages, they’ll lose ad revenue to the tune of $100 million a year. “Jimbo” Wales rolled Jason’s offer around, even asking members what they’d do with that money. Then in a stunning about-face he told Jason “No,” and was applauded for not letting AOL’s sponsorship control Wikipedia.
10-14-2006: The Consumerist says AOL’s laying off 1,400 call reps “trained to trick you into not canceling your AOL account,” when they close their Albuquerque, NM, and Tucson, AZ centers and sell their Ogden, UT call center “in mid-December, just in time for Christmas.” Wow, not even an AOL-branded lump of coal for brainwashing us into thinking we must have it: “Free anti-virus software! Parental controls! Keywords! (give me a f***ing break) Ads, ads, more ads, AIM, chat rooms!” Oh wait, maybe they don’t say all that…The Consumerist is clucking unhappily that the Ogden center’s been sold to a company that will hang onto every AOL employee except John, but it’s quite common for AOL to outsource them. Contract workers can’t be much worse, I promise you.
08-30-2006: AOL’s free 9.0 software fell into the bad graces of stopbadware.org, according to this report, which lists every complaint I had with it. Will these issues stop new users, even at the newbie level, from using it? Yes, if they have any sense at all. It stopped me. I have more planned on this topic soon.
Free domain names? Think again.
08-08-2006: Starting in September AOL is giving out free domain names with free storage space and up to 100 email addresses compatible with Outlook Express and other clients. The only catch is you won’t own the domain name; it’s AOL’s forever. I’ll update as details become clearer.