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AOL launches corporate IM beta

Test version of AIM Pro service targets working professionals, small work groups and businesses.

AOL launched a public beta of its AIM Pro service on Wednesday, marking the latest industry titan to offer corporate America a business version of its instant-messaging service.

The AIM Pro service, professional edition beta, is a version of AOL's popular Instant Messenger that targets working professionals, small work groups and businesses.

The application is designed to integrate with Microsoft Outlook and provide access to AOL partner WebEx Communications for video conferencing and desktop sharing. The beta follows AOL's announcement in February that it would offer a subscription-based instant-messaging service to corporations and business users.

Although the test version is currently free, AOL said it plans to later charge a nominal fee for the AIM Pro professional edition service.

The company is also gearing up to launch a public beta of its AIM Pro Enterprise Instant Messaging edition next week. This edition will feature centralized administrative controls for larger companies, as well as the AIM invitation software to improve the ease of joining a video conference, the company said.

A final version of the Professional and the Enterprise editions are expected in the fall, a company representative said.

The Enterprise edition will also carry a subscription fee, once the final version becomes available.

Other industry players, including Microsoft and Yahoo, have dabbled in corporate IM for the past several years. In addition, a number of companies have launched efforts to make public IM services more secure in the corporate world.