What's Missing from the AIM Pro Beta

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....

David Greenfield

June 16, 2006

2 Min Read
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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.Group presence People in organizations often think in terms of groups, not users. They might like to query accounts payable, for example, with a question instead of having to ask a particular person in accounts payable. Yet AIM Pro currently only offers individual presence not group presence.

Centralized control IT needs to be able to limit the services available at the client. This includes being able to completely customize the interface, such as disabling file transfer and removing the video portion of the client. None of that is possible in the client today.

The last issue at least should be addressed next week when AOL launches its next beta; this time testing the Enterprise Instant Messaging (EIM) edition of AIM Pro. This client is expected to offer IT centralized management and administration of IM features.

Here's to hoping that EIM will also address the rest of the featuers that corporeate IMers really need.

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