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Summary:

Once they decided to move away from the access business, AOL is going all out and offering all sorts of free services to cash in on the current eyeball boom, and of course hang on to their dwindling community. Earlier this summer they offered 5 GB […]

Once they decided to move away from the access business, AOL is going all out and offering all sorts of free services to cash in on the current eyeball boom, and of course hang on to their dwindling community. Earlier this summer they offered 5 GB free storage to one and all (thanks to that X Drive acquisition), a free phone number, and now they are offering OpenRide to broadband users.

The software, while retaining some of the visual cues of the classic AOL, is fairly clean and easy to use. It is clearly targeted at folks who are comfortable with the AOL interface, but are now switching to broadband connections. For them, this could be best of both worlds. (That is if your world involves a computer running Windows XP Service Pack 2.)

OpenRide is essentially a browser that is split into four panes – one each for e-mail (including accounts that are from non-AOL domains,) instant messaging, video and general Web browsing. The software also has a search box, which is tied to AOL search engine. You can playback entertainment content such as videos as well. These panes resize depending on what you are doing – if you are browsing, the browser dominates, and when checking mail, well mail pane takes up a big portion of the screen. (I am not quite sure what browser this is based on, but hopefully will hear from AOL folks soon, and will update, accordingly.)

Does OpenRide remind you of Flock but for more mainstream users? Anyway, do you think this could become more of a trend going forward – companies like Comcast and SBC offering their own little browser-based clients?

  1. I find interesting (and refreshing) that they package this as software, since they could easily do all of this in a web browser. Does that say something about what “real users” (not Silicon Valley) really want?

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  2. Om, it’s the AOL Explorer Browser, an IE-based excellent browser.

    http://downloads.channel.aol.com/browser

    Do you think the sliding panel interface could be a new way of using program windows?

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  3. The interface is horrible, looks great when you look at the pic, but when you actually download the openride beta, it doesn’t compare to the AOL 9.0 SE. You would find it a bit little annoying, switching from one pane to the other. I guess I’ll just stick with my AOL 9.0 or the AOL explorer

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  4. I’d say it’s more like Flock for AOL users. We’ve got mainstream users ;)

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  5. Om, you have definitely identified a trend for Telcos to start creating their own browser-based clients. BT (British Telecom) are already doing this in the UK in partnership with Yahoo.

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  6. I DOWNLOADED OPENRIDE FOUR DAYS AGO, AND HATE EVERY BIT OF IT. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW TO UNINSTALL IT, OR JUST GET RID OF IT. I GOT TO THE ADD OR UNINSTALL POINT, CLICKED ON THAT AND GOT AN ERROR WINDOW. ANY SUGGESTIONS. UNDO MIGHT WORK BUT I CANNOT REMEMBER WHERE TO FIND IT.
    THANK YOU

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  7. I DO NOT WANT OPENRIDE, PLEASE DELETE IT FROM MY COMPUTER IMMEDIATELY!

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  8. I downloaded Openride 2 days ago and am NOT impresed at all !! I want it removed but cannot find where to “uninstall” it .. it does not show up on my list of programs thru the normal windows “control panel”. I WANT IT GONE !!!

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  9. I actually like the idea of it who cares about the name? I can simply launch all of my emails, chatting on aim ,music, video, pictures, ton of radio stations for FREE plus browsing all in one panel. I actualy uninstalled AOL 9.0 because Openride got everything i want instead of all the junk on 9.0. I also like the side panel on the browser easy access to everything from my favorite to channels ect. In conclude i think they did a very good job, you guy can’t complain for their hard work given us the best service for FREE! I Wouldn’t dare to complain or ask for anything more. We should be appreciate what they given us and don’t bitch too much about it. What i want to see for improvement is for them create new theme of Openride instead of that plain blue color thing well for the browser alone you can change some theme color but not the whole thing.

    Keep working hard AOL!!!!

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  10. I like the look of Openride, but the address book doesnt transfer over, and no way to transfer it. Supposed to be able to import, but import button and address button doesn’t show up as the instructions say it will. AOL Online help tells me it should be automatic if it’s automatic in IE AOL anywhere…which it shows up there. SIGHHHH

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