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AOL brings AIM for Mac back from the dead

Mac users finally get the first updated version of AIM since 2004, but is it too late?

AOL on Monday quietly released a brand-new version of its instant-messenger application for Mac users. Called "AIM for Mac beta 1," it's a replacement for version 4.7, which has remained untouched since February 2004.

Back then gas was a little over $1.50 a gallon.

Unlike the changes in oil prices, those four years have amounted to little more than what was offered in previous iterations of the program, or Apple's iChat application which comes pre-installed in every Mac computer. In the new version users can change emoticon sets and tweak background chat wallpapers--all things that you can't do with the current version of iChat. There's also tabbed browsing and contact search which the previous version did not have. Otherwise, it's largely playing catch-up to the PC version, which has received the most attention and is currently on version 6.8.

Also worth noting is how much the market has changed since the latest Mac release. iChat and third-party applications like Adium, Digsby, and Pidgin have the upper hand with compatibility for other protocols. AIM for Mac is currently limited to AOL and Yahoo contacts, while the others support things like Jabber, ICQ, and XMPP. In a more frequently fragmented market, with newcomers like Facebook and Google, these open platforms simply end up being more appealing.

[via Macrumors and Ars]

AIM for Mac looks quite similar to iChat, although without the audio and video logos to let you know who is ready for media chatting. AOL Inc.