AOL shipped the beta of its new business-oriented IM client, AIM Pro, this week and while the client has a lot to offer business there's plenty that could be improved. The client is based on the current AIM Triton platform and is an outgrowth of AOL's WebEx relationship. This means that aside from offering message encryption, AOL has also added "WebEx capabilities" -- web conferencing and the voice and video capabilities of the WebEx MediaTone Network. Interoperability with non-AIM Pro clients is available with other business-oriented IM clients through AOL's Clearinghouse service.
Outlook integration has also been added, and it's quite slick. The new client synchronizes its calendar with one's Outlook calendar. Scheduling a meeting in Outlook is automatically reflected in the calendar provided AIM's tab and vice versa.
But there a lot that's missing from AIM Pro, namely:
Differentiated presence Business users should be able to set different availability states for different classes of users. So they should be able to indicate that they are "away" to some users, but "available" to others.
Phone directory Darn, when will IM providers build interfaces that display contact information in the IM panel? We just need a phone number or extension. The IM window is perfect for that sort of thing. AIM Pro currently provides no facility for entering extension information or other details about the contact. What's more, within a company you'd like to pre-populate a user's IM address book with the names, title, and phone numbers of people in the company or the group.