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AOL offers new high-speed software

Called OpenRide, it lets people multitask via one integrated, four-part screen.

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.
AOL on Wednesday launched a free version of its software optimized for broadband use.

The OpenRide software lets people access multiple e-mail accounts from AOL and other providers, send and receive instant messages, browse the Web, listen to music, view photos and watch videos--all through one integrated screen.

OpenRide offers access to one's AOL Buddy List and Address Book and, if a contact is not online, the software turns an instant message into a text message or e-mail.

The software comes after AOL announced plans this summer to offer most of its services for free in an effort to boost online-advertising sales. It also stopped marketing its Internet dial-up access service, but it continues to maintain and charge for it.

The OpenRide software screen is divided into four parts that change size, depending on what the person is viewing. Elements of one window--an e-mail message, for example--can be dragged and dropped into another window, such as the contact name on a Buddy List.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Correction: Due to an editing error, this story incorrectly described the status of AOL's OpenRide software. It is the general release.