Instant-messaging apps aren't just for emotive tweens; corporations rely upon IM for quick, cross-cubicle communication. But behind the smiley faces of many IM apps, lax security lurks. Pitching safer, SSL-encrypted messaging with virus scans, AOL launched AIM Pro today. This free corporate IM service integrates with Microsoft Outlook as well as the WebEx online meeting service, so you can collaborate with business buddies while having your calendar and multiple contacts on hand. AIM Pro also includes video and voice chatting as well as tools for IT administrators. You can download it at aol.com/aimpro.
So far, we like the simple installation and straightforward interface, which lacks ads. Once we signed into AIM Pro with our AOL identity, the app's Calendar tab immediately integrated our Outlook calendar without demanding any extra steps. A book icon within the Quick Contacts area at the bottom of AIM Pro allowed us to immediately add names of coworkers we had within Outlook.
AOL says that AIM Pro reaches 80 million users. AIM alone enjoys 47 million users, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. That's several million more than the combined user bases of both Yahoo Messenger with Voice and Windows Live Messenger, which just began allowing users to chat with each other.
AOL has been making other IM updates lately. It recently enabled AIM Triton users to get a free phone number through AIM Phoneline service, which charges $14.95 monthly to let you make outbound calls to landline and mobile phones around the world. By comparison, Yahoo Messenger charges $2.99 monthly if you want to get a phone number, which Windows Live Messenger doesn't provide.