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AOL chats up Instant Messenger tweaks

The latest version of the popular IM service, called AIM 4.8, sports a few new perks, such as the ability to send e-mail and to access one's address book.

America Online has released an upgrade to its popular AOL Instant Messenger service.

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The new version, called AIM 4.8, offers a few extra perks, such as the ability to send e-mail and access one's address book. AIM 4.8 also lets people manage their AOL Alerts, a feature that sends e-mail updates about sports scores, news headlines, weather reports and stock performance.

In addition, AIM 4.8 lets people send online greetings through its interface, and send their entire buddy list to another recipient. The new version is available on the company's Web site.

This is the first new version of the AIM software since last July. The changes since that time are minor, underscoring the service's ongoing evolution.

"We're always enhancing AIM and making the instant messaging experience easier and better for Web users," said Marty Gordon, an AOL spokesman.

New software versions are often released as a way to patch vulnerabilities, as was the case in May when Yahoo upgraded its Yahoo Messenger service to patch a buffer overflow problem.

Gordon said there were no "specific vulnerabilities" that were being patched with the upgrade, saying the changes were mere "enhancements" to the service.