AOL service aims to 'untether' desktop PCs

For $6.95 per month, Windows customers can sign up to access two "host" computers from any remote machine.

America Online on Tuesday launched a new service designed for Windows users with a hankering to access, say, their entire home computer from work--or vice versa--without lugging any cargo.

The service, called Link2PC, is billed as a way to "untether" one's desktop computer. For $6.95 per month, AOL members and nonmembers alike can register and download the necessary software onto two Windows-based "host" computers, which they can then access from any Internet-connected Windows machine by logging their account information into a Web browser.

Through a password-protected, 128-bit encrypted virtual desktop, customers can gain full access to all their applications and documents; view, edit and share files; and print those files to a local printer without having to install extra drivers.

Link2PC is not exactly a novel idea, though similar offerings, such as Citrix Systems' GoToMyPC and 3amlabs' LogMeIn Pro, appear to carry a higher price tag (LogMeIn also has a free version). AOL's version is intended to be simple and affordable enough for all "mainstream consumers," Senior Vice President Ed Fish said in a statement, adding that many existing remote-PC access programs are geared toward "'road warrior' business travelers."

Right now, the program is available only for Windows 98 and newer versions of the operating system. AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham said the company had not announced any plans to develop a Macintosh-compatible version.

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