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News from AOL: Small, snackable AIM updates

Some AOL Webmail stuff in there too.

AOL released a new press release about its AIM instant messenger service this afternoon, and while there aren't any massive overhauls (unless you count Vista compatibility), you can expect a few new little perks. And maybe a few new little bugs. Yum.

The new release of AIM 6.1, which will be available later this week, is most notably the first version of AIM to be compatible with Windows Vista. Prior versions of the instant-messaging software had not been optimized for use with Microsoft's new operating system. (It wasn't the only popular download that needed to be upgraded for Vista compatibility. Apple's iTunes had the same problem.) AOL has also revamped its Internet Explorer AOL Toolbar, which has some AIM features built-in, and optimized it for Windows Vista. According to the company, Firefox users will have their own version available during the week of April 2.

There are also some small new features in AIM 6.1; you can now make your Buddy List one of ten different colors (um, okay) and choose to dock it on either side of your desktop so that other windows don't cover it. Also, when your friends are signed off, you can send them offline IMs, a feature which some other instant messaging clients like Yahoo Instant Messenger already have. With AIM's offline IMs, you can opt to have them "delivered" via SMS to your cell phone or wait until the next time you're signed on.

Additionally, AOL is expanding its current beta (y'know, "Cayman") of its AOL Webmail, which interested users can opt into, to include better integration of AIM chat. Presumably, they're working toward making it as successful as Gmail's Google Talk sidebar.