AIM: End of an Era, 2017 by Sam C. Chan
 April 11, 2017

On February 27, 2017, AOL sent notice that they'll terminate support for AIM 7.5.14.x on March 28, 2017, and they actually did 31 days later. They sent hidden download link for to affected users, to remain in-service.

Unexpectedly, 13 days later,
at 8:45pm on April 10,
they announced that effective immediately,
all 7.x versions
will be disabled.
Only 8.x (entirely different platform) is supported.

They even momentarily disabled their own current version of official Android app. That appears to be unintended technical glitch, as Android app connection was permitted again within 12 hours. They have previously already disabled 3rd-party AIM clients, such as: IM+, Adium, etc. It is apparent that AOL shutdown their OSCAR Server, and protocol.

What's Next

  • The era of adapting free consumer IM service as economical alternative corporate messaging server in tech support and collaboration has ended, after 19 years.
  • Bravo will not adopt AIM 8.x. I personally have AIM 8 installed only in virtual machines for experiments and evaluation.
  • I have no plan to use it in-house on production workstations: 
  • Downgrade support status from PSL0 (highest) to PSL3:
    Client sites opting to adopt 8.x will continue to receive support.
  • On-going efforts to evaluate self-hosted platforms will accelerate. Announcement shortly.
  • In the interim, I'm using AOL's web client, formerly known as AIM Express.
  • Clients are encouraged to use web client as temporary solution, without installing anything. Just login to your AIM account at:

AIM web client has additional shortcomings, on top of AIM 8.x issues:
  • limited features, compared to installed application
    • no control of AIM sounds
    • no co-browsing (by pasting URL), it's now forbidden
    • file transfer glitchy & complex, slow if it works
    • no direct picture
    • Ctrl-A,C select all & copy conversation doesn't work
  • minor issues related to using web browser
    • "remember password" is done via web browser
    • poor layout control of app windows & panes
    • can accidentally close web page
    • refresh glitch, e.g. constant blinking if buddies have animated buddy icon
    • no auto-launch upon login to Windows
  • AOL also just shutdown their ad-free AIM Pro service, a paid subscription for business users.
  • AOL's remaining as relevant concern in online services has been called into question recently. They have transformed into a digital media company (content publishing): Huffington Post, Engadget, TechCrunch, MapQuest
  • Related development:
    • In 2008, Yahoo rejected Microsoft's final bid of $54 billion (2008 dollars).
    • Verizon (owns AOL subsidiary) just bought (approval pending) Yahoo for $4.3 billion (2017 dollars). That was further reduced by $350 million, after the previously undisclosed massive breach was uncovered.
    • Verizon will combine AOL + Yahoo, calling it Oath (Verizon's other brands to be added under this umbrella). They will likely drop/deemphasize the legacy AIM & Yahoo Messenger platforms in the near future, and concentrate on the AOL ad-servers. Major takedowns and consolidations are virtually certain after such mergers.


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