The Specifics On AOL’s OS X Client Beta Release (Updated)

VersionTracker is reporting that AOL has released a beta version of their AOL client for OS X. On April 2nd, Think Secret broke the story that AOL would be seeding a test version of their OS X client this month, and it turns out they were correct. By doing a keyword search for "Beta" from within AOL, users were able to access the text version of the OS X client.

Reportedly a Carbon application, reports around the Web are also indicating that AOL has already pulled the release from their public servers, as this was apparently not meant for consumption by the general public, but rather a group of AOL specified beta testers.

While most of the Mac Observer staff does not use AOL, and are thus unable to confirm the reports, an undisclosed source sent us this information below from the AOL Beta Tester area:

Here are the system requirements (first) and the known bugs/issues:

The following are the System Requirements to participate in this Beta Test. If you do not meet these requirements, please do NOT download the client software.

Hardware:
Macintosh computer which originally came with either a G3 or G4 microprocessor(s). (Third party accelerator cards are not supported.)

128 MBytes Ram or more

Modem supported by Mac OS X (currently, only Apple Internal modems and a limited number of Lucent Technologies chipset based USB modems are supported)

or Pre-existing connection to the Internet via a Mac OS X supported Ethernet or Airport Card

At least 30 MB available on Hard Drive (preferably more)

Firmware:
Apple recommends having your computer updated to the latest firmware revision. Please note that although issues have been reported with certain RAM chips and the newest G4 / iMac / Pismo Powerbook firmware, few have reported problems with Appleis Internal Modem firmware update. So, if you have an Apple Internal Modem which still has version 2.2 or older firmware, the version 2.30 firmware update (named "Apple Modem Updater 2.0" on Appleis web site) is highly recommended.

If you have an Apple Internal Modem and wish to check its firmware version, start your computer under OS 8.x/9.x and launch the Apple System Profiler from the Apple menu. Modem information is on the System Profile tab, in the Network overview section. Any questions about updating your firmware should be directed to Apple.

Software:
Mac OS X 10.0 (also known as revision 4K78) Operating System already installed and functioning. (Mac OS X Developer Previews, the Public Beta, and Mac OS X Server are not supported)

The following Software is required to initially download the AOL for Mac OS X client but is not required for use of the new client:

AOL for Macintosh 4.0 / 5.0 / 5.0 refresh Client

and either

True Mac OS 8.1 - 9.x (machine "booted into" OS 8.1-9.x) if AOL must do the dialing

or

Mac OS 9.1 designated to run as the "Classic Environment" under Mac OS X, if you connect via TCP/IP

Please note that any AOL client running from within the "Classic Environment" will not have direct access to most modems. The computer must be started under true OS 8.1-9.x to allow any classic versions of AOL to dial your modem.

Here are the known bugs:
Known/Fixed Issues - AOL for Mac OS X 2a

Known Issues:
Crash Issues:

  • AOL client will "Unexpectedly Quit" if a mouse/trackball Scroll Wheel is moved anytime after WWW preferences are accessed or after the internal browser had been used and then closed.

Other Issues:

  • Installer pauses while attempting to quit other applications before installing. This delay may take up to 1 minute. Closing all other applications before launching the installer may help reduce the delay time.
  • When installer is downloaded (Under OS 9) and "auto launched," error message stating why install wonit continue is unclear
  • Installer says it will create a "Folder" named America Online - installer really creates an application package
  • Computeris Date/Time settings must be set to a date/time more recent than the date/time the AOL Installer was built, or else member keeps being treated as "New Member" at each launch of / logon to AOL.
  • If AOL is installed by a user with admin rights, the application will not launch for users who do not have admin rights
  • AOL cannot be installed properly by a user without admin rights
  • Only Mac OS X supported modems, Airport, and ethernet cards are supported
  • The scroll wheels of third party mice/trackballs with are not yet supported
  • Download folder may default to previous clientis download folder
  • Sounds folder(s) may be located in unexpected place(s), expected sounds files may not be the ones that play
  • Client does not filter out aliases when presenting upgrade choices
  • Various issues with the OT/PPP dialer (internal modems are silent; no dialtone, unexpected disconnects, etc are not handled well, with delay in popping warning / informative messages)
  • During AOL Dial-up, Connection steps are not displayed as expected (Step 1 is rarely seen, Steps 3,4,6,7 are never displayed)
  • In general, AOL for Mac OS X takes longer to sign on via dialup than current AOL 5.0 client.
  • "Auto AOL" Sessions may not run when "Scheduled"
  • "Auto AOL" Sessions may not support more than one copy of AOL client
  • No choice to "cancel" Auto AOL session during upload/download of attached file(s)
  • Picture Gallery will not display any of Appleis JPGs or TIFFs
  • Double-clicking on Favorite Places which had been dragged to the desktop does not take you to desired location
  • Double-clicking on saved Memos, Email, or sounds does not cause the document to be opened by AOL for Mac OS X client (often, a classic version of AOL will be invoked). With desired client running, use File menu, Open to open documents / saved favorites
  • IMs may "collide" on single line when sent simultaneously
  • After sending an originating IM, the reply opens a second IM window which does not have the "Notify AOL" or "Get Profile" buttons
  • Bottom of Browser windows may open "behind" the dock
  • Some secure web sites may not recognize the browser as being secure
  • Browser does not "tunnel" as Refresh client does
  • Browser does not "look" at the OSis Internet Plug-Ins folder. To add plugins to AOL, member must navigate into the AOL application package.
  • Folders inside Favorite Places window do not have icons
  • Idle and 45 minute timers may not pop as expected
  • News Tickers may not function as expected
  • Icon is missing from Attachments field of Email with attached file(s)
  • Address book Help file needs updating
  • Address book may not "sync" with online host as quickly as expected
  • "Classic" Address book info is not imported properly (notes are not copied and email addresses of individuals not in groups are not copied)
  • Cannot drag individuals into groups within the Adddress book without first opening said group (easy way to add individuals is to open the group window, position it so that it is next to the Address Book window, and then drag individuals from Address book window (or from other Group windows) into the desired Group window)
  • Art Database may not compress as expected
  • Kids Only accounts may not behave as expected (will see the normal Welcome screen and Toolbar)
  • Calendar and adding items to calendar may not function as expected
  • Assigning "Helper" Applications does not function as expected
  • Some Ad Banners may have clickable white space
  • Selecting My Webpage (from My AOL menu) while offline results in PP3 tool error
  • Selecting "Send Message to Pager" from Toolbaris People Pop-down does not work (use Keyword Pager instead)
  • Selecting Toolbaris Channels Pop-down presents different list than Channels section of Welcome Screen
  • Most bugs which can be duplicated in the original Mac 5.0 client
  • Various Mac OS X issues which Apple hasnit addressed yet (example: desktop and folder windows are slow to reflect changes / refresh display when items are saved/downloaded/deleted)

Cosmetic Issues:

  • Installer lacks custom icon (and custom icon bit)
  • Custom install does not have Aqua style checkboxes
  • Icons on toolbar often get stuck in "lit up" mode
  • AOL Icon on Welcome Screen is "cut off" first time client signs online
  • Some scroll bars may be missing
  • Some graphics may be anti-aliased poorly
  • Welcome Screenis AOL logo may appear clipped during first time logon
  • No "tool tip" ("Help tag") upon mouse-over of html links / buttons
  • Text inside some Aqua Buttons may be cut off
  • Some Aqua Buttons may be encircled by Classic-style rings
  • Text and buttons on advertising "pop-ups" may not display as expected
  • Many online "brandings" proclaim AOL for Mac OS X client to be "5.0"

In other AOL related news, Epicware has updated their marvelous instant messaging application, Fire.app, and have reinstated support for AOLis AIM protocol. Using a completely different library than previous versions of Fire, which were summarily blocked by AIMis servers, the latest version of Fire seems to play nice with the AIM service while maintaing support for other IM protocols such as Yahoo, MSN, and ICQ.

You can find more information about Fire at the Epicware Web site, and more information about AOL at their Web site.

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