AOL readies new Web mail

Company will offer redesigned service to members this week--and nonmembers later this year--as it seeks to reel in a broader audience.

Jim Hu Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jim Hu
covers home broadband services and the Net's portal giants.
Jim Hu
America Online on Wednesday said it plans to launch its redesigned Web-based e-mail service for subscribers later this week.

As first reported by CNET News.com, AOL last December began testing the redesign of "AOL Mail on the Web." The Time Warner subsidiary said it would first offer the service only to its members but then launch a separate free Web mail service to nonmembers later in 2005.

AOL Mail on the Web's new look will resemble the layout of Microsoft's Outlook, with messages organized in a column of folders on one side and message texts in the main body of the client. The service will launch with 100MB of storage, mirroring similar moves by competitors Yahoo, Microsoft's Hotmail and Google's Gmail.

AOL has been making steady moves to upgrade its mail service and other areas of its Web properties. In August, the company acquired antispam software vendor Mailblocks in an effort to boost its e-mail redesign.

AOL also has been refurbishing its AOL.com site by pushing more of its proprietary content onto the overall Web. The company has already updated the site for subscribers and will eventually launch a redesign for nonmembers.

Online news site BetaNews first reported the timing of AOL Mail on the Web's launch.

CNET News.com's Dawn Kawamoto contributed to this report.