AOL version 9 is the browser/program that my parents use for their home computer, and I really dislike it for several reasons.
We've been using AOL since about 4.0, which must be getting on for ten years now, and until about AOL 7.0 I had no problems with it. Then two things happened - one, browsers started getting more competitive and introducing essential things like tabs, and secondly, AOL started getting far more bloated and buggy.
Now my parents' computer is younger, has more RAM, hard drive space and better components than my old laptop, and yet my old laptop using a non-AOL browser is at least twice as fast. AOL 9.0 takes forever to start, and drives me completely mad. Once you double-click the icon, the screen opens on your computer and you log in with your username and password. It then connects to the Internet. If you've ever seen 'You've Got Mail', it's as slow as that (but doesn't make the screechy dial-up noises) - and that was from 1996 or so!
My second issue is that, once you've logged on, you get a massive title bar across the top of the screen. Admittedly AOL is somewhat prettier than other browsers, but I don't really care that much. This title bar consists of a row of text options 'Tools' etc., then underneath is a line of picture icons, generally specific to AOL such as 'Community' and the like. By the time you've got down to the address bar, a good few inches of your screen space has been taken up by rubbish. You can't get rid of these things either, and they seem to take over the screen more and more with every new version as AOL desperately tries to cling on to its market share. If you like your font size big, as my parents do, then it's a nightmare as you're constantly scrolling to see what you want.
Also when you log in, you get a pop up with some information about AOL. Completely pointless, and just adds to the slow loading time. You can't open things in new tabs, and any new windows only minimise inside the AOL program itself - more annoyances.
When I go to my parents' house I log on using Firefox rather than AOL. As they've upgraded to wireless Internet, then I'm completely free from using AOL, but if you're in the unfortunate position of not having that luck, then you can log on to AOL and then open Firefox or another browser (it adds to the bulk but is actually faster than AOL alone).
If you've got an AOL email address then you can easily access your email. Other than that, it's pointless (and you can always log in with AOL webmail). Sadly, I have fond memories of how it used to be but now it's just irritating and not cut out for current Internet users' expectations.
Let me start off by saying that AOL 9 is probably the worse software for internet access that there has ever been. It is a complete system hog, and is the only ISP that thrusts its own software down our throats whether we like it or not.
After installing the AOL9 software, I rebooted my pc and when I got back on to my desktop there was this annoying icon in my taskbar from AOL which was searching for the internet network connection. This went on for at least 3 minutes, during which time my pc was almost unusable due to that searching. Then, if that wasn't bad enough. AOL's own spyware scanner (which again was thrust upon me unawares) started to kick in, again slowing my pc to a crawl until this bloated piece of software finally loaded up. Incidentally, these things were not a "one off" they happened each and every time I rebooted my pc to my great annoyance.
I put up with these annoyances for almost a year but what really got me to change from AOL eventually was the fact that about every couple of hours or so my internet connection would fail. That horrible little AOL icon in the taskbar would state that a "network cable was unplugged" and eventually again it would search for a connection taking almost 3 minutes during which time my pc would be unusable until this crap piece of software was satisfied that my network cable was indeed plugged in. These events happened more frequently until I eventually decided that enough was enough and moved to a different ISP (and I haven't looked back since).
AOL is trying to corner the market regarding internet access. They have a policy of "the internet in one place". Meaning AOL software, AOL web browsing, AOL instant chat, AOL security.
Unfortunately, it simply fails to work. They even have the audacity to have their own (AOL) webpage open up when you click on the AOL 9 icon on the desktop to access the internet,with AOL news and AOL suggesting this and that to you.
I appreciate that you can minimise AOL to the taskbar and open up your regular browser, but the thought of the software still sitting there is most annoying.
Also there are constant update downloads to this piece of worthless software and hardly a day goes by that when you log out of AOL it doesn't want you to download an update for this and that. Extremely annoying!
Also customer service is laughable. To ring them up before used to be free of charge, but now,every phone call will cost you.And whatever you complain to them about they will argue that it is all your fault and not theirs. They will tell you that your pc is faulty in some way and that it couldn't possibly be their fault.
My strong advice to anybody new to the internet is to leave AOL 9 and its bloated, unusable software well alone. To the rest of you who are already internet savvy, well I need not tell you because you will already know.
America On Line (AOL) has been my first and only Internet provider and from the first day my husband introduced it to me I fell in love. From the basic layout of the home page and easy access to your emails, to the facility to have 7 different email addresses and especially the news updates, there is definitely something for everyone on here.
Firstly I have to mention the colour of the main page. It is a very relaxing shade of blue with the task bar and borders of any other relevant boxes in a slightly darker blue. It is very appealing on the eye and easy to look at for long periods if you are reading articles and so on.
When you initially sign on to AOL it brings up the home page. This is the area where you can start navigating around all the news stories or the features of the day. There are tons of links to different things from here and I have logged on at times meaning to simply read my email and have ended up spending a couple of hours reading around everything that has taken my fancy.
The main news stories of the day feature at the top of the page in a slideshow style. It flicks through pictures of the top stories and there is a link from the text underneath to allow you to access the full report. Of course you could just click on the picture to access it but I tend to use the link as there are other relevant links underneath too and I like to make sure I am entering the right report. This has to be one of my favourite features on AOL and the one that I use most regularly, except email, simply because I am on the computer anyway and as I have young children at home I rarely get to watch any form of adult TV through the day I rely on AOL to keep me updated on the main news stories at least. The other thing I like about this is that it is not just serious reports that it provides links to. There are also articles on X Factor and Im a Celebrity along with other less life changing topics but things I do find very interesting.
Another section I use a lot from the front page is the search facility. It is powered by Google, which would be my search engine of choice if I were to use a separate window, although I do find that the AOL search always gives me the information I am looking for and it arrives with the ease of not having to open a separate window. You can search the whole web or just UK sites and is extremely useful to have on your main page.
Along the left hand side is a simple list of other areas for you to access via AOL. For instance there is a Lifestyle section and a simple click on here will take you to a heading page for all topics that come under Lifestyle, like diets and relationship issues along with competitions to enter for home makeovers and so on.
As always kids have to be catered for and AOL has certainly thought about catering for the whole family. They have a page all to themselves where they can play games, read jokes and watch the latest trailers for kids movies. At the moment they are showing Flushed Away and I like this a lot as it gives the kids a chance to see a clip and decide if they want to watch the whole film at the cinema or not. And as well as Homework Help, which is great, they have the capability of entering competitions on music and much more.
Along the top of the screen after logging in you get a lot more options as well. For instance there is a tab called Read with a number next to it. This allows you to click once and come up with your email in box. The number relates to how many new emails you have in your inbox. It is such a quick and smooth process to get into this feature that I find myself checking it several times a day as it literally takes only a few seconds. To make matters even easier as soon as you click on it and the email feature appears, you can also access your old emails and sent emails from here, as well as being able to manage your email and delete or search for stuff you have saved. You can access your spam folder from here too, which I find very useful as I often get emails dumped in spam which actually arent, so simple access to this folder is very handy.
With a whole host of other facilities along the tool bar it is easy to access loads of different features on AOL that will soon become part of your everyday Internet experience.
--Other Useful features
It has a reminder/diary service; similar to Outlook I would say. You simply enter a description of what you want to be reminded about, like Haircut for example, and then the date and time. When it reaches that specific point it will pop up with a small window at the bottom of the screen and a fairly high-pitched tone will alert you of the message. At the same time an email will be sent to you showing the details of the reminder.
Obviously there is a URL box for you to enter a site address if you know it and want to go there directly, and this remembers previously visited sites, so once you start to type it will come up with a list of potential websites for you to click on if you choose to but I tend to have all my most used websites in the favourites places. This is simple to use and one click of the word Favourites will provide a list of all your best sites that you have added as you go to them. You can move around the order and have your most frequented ones at the top. Mine is extremely full as I always add useful sites to this section in case I cant find them again, but obviously Dooyoo is on the top of the list!
I love the fact that you get seven different log-ins as well. It means the whole family can have their own email address, with the kids being able to have a small amount of privacy to receive and send their own emails, as well as the possibility of a business email address if you work from home.
If the kids do have their own screen name, you can set the parental controls on their accounts so that AOL restricts the websites and areas they can have access to. You can select levels of restrictions based on age groups and we have our eldest sons set at teenager level and our middle son at kids level. I think this is a great facility with the Internet being as much a danger ground as a wealth of information and fun.
Another great feature to help you save space, id the compression of old emails, that have been read but not deleted. AOL compresses them down and saves them in a personal filing cabinet so you can always access them if you need to search for an old email for any reason, but they are not sitting in your main email account, filling it up and making it slow and untidy. I have used the search facility on the old compressed emails, many times and found it easy, fast and effective and have always managed to find the email I was looking for.
AOL 9 is extremely easy to install, either from the Internet or from a CD and a simple wizard will guide you through the installation process. My husband did it, while I watched and I have to say, even I could probably have done it, as there was nothing really difficult to do. We are subscribed to the AOL Broadband Platinum service and we pay £29.99 per month for this. It is AOLs fastest package at 8Mbps and we have never really experienced any problems with the speed at all. There is however an AOL Broadband Silver and Gold package that will cost you £14.99 or £24.99 per month respectively and these obviously have slower speeds. AOL also provide dial up for £5.95 per month if you cannot get broadband in your area or any other reason.
I know a lot of people dont like AOL and its price is high compared to others but I personally would not consider using any other provider. I love all the features I get with AOL and the kids are used to it, meaning their Internet experience is positive and informed. I would hate to lose the main news page on the welcome screen and for me AOL is a comfort and an old friend when I log on.