Instant Messaging: AIM-LT by Sam C. Chan
AIM-LT Versions
1.0 5.0 TR
2.0 5.2 TR
2.1 5.5.3595 + AL3
3.1 6.8 + AAH557
3.2 + AAH619
3.3 + AAH619
3.5 -http
3.5a -http
First published: September 28, 2007
Last updated: September 10, 2011
Last reviewed: June 5, 2012

I've been relying on instant messaging (IM) since 1981 (CompuServe, The Source, Quantum, AOL, ICQ, MSN). To me, it's as natural (and essential) as telephone and indoor plumbing. Corporate circles adopted IM a decade ago. Small businesses also caught on, using garden variety consumer services. Since 2003, we've been facilitating the development and deployment of a sensible hybrid solution, internally referred to as AIM-LT.

What is AIM-LT?

  • a 4-part customization and deployment project (not a deliverable product):
    • a striped-down version of AIM 5.5.3595, adapted for business use
    • deployed custom registry modification
    • administer Bravo standard issue (scripted) optimized application settings
    • setup corresponding host-based firewall rules to further enforce restrictions
  • small footprint: 8M HD, 9M memory, vs 25M~100M HD, 16M~90M memory
  • zero unauthorized background traffic
  • harness free consumer software & service, streamline it, add corporate style admin

Why older custom version, instead of latest consumer version from AOL?

  • frugal on resources, works well even on 500MHz systems
  • improve security: no risky non-essential features = smaller attack surface
  • more privacy: less spying/monitoring/reporting
  • reduce distractions and unprofessional appearance
  • conserve on-screen space
  • less drain on Internet bandwidth
  • 5.9 and 6.x add nothing to core collaborative functions, only more complexity and intrusion
    • UPDATE: 7.x is drastically "corporatized" on many fronts, and is now IT-approved. This is the final version of the legacy line, not to be confused with its successor...
    • UPDATE: The latest "AIM for Windows 8.x" is a completely rewritten new program, intended as a social media platform, not messenger. It is drastically more resource intensive. It is intrusive on privacy and violates confidentiality rules. It is currently not tamable by IT, and is therefore banned.
  • avoid incessant changes of menu structure & user interface layout, streamline support

Why not in-house server-based "real" corporate messaging products?

  • over-kill: complexity, required constant IT admin services
  • prohibitive costs to acquire
  • many have recurring per-seat licensing fees, renewable annually
  • small businesses lack the prerequisite economy-of-scale

What are the core collaboration features that are retained and supported?

  • text messaging
  • direct dragging of pictures (not quite "whiteboard," no annotation)
  • share clickable URL
  • file transfer (requires explicit actions by both parties) w/ throttling, unlimited size
  • conference room (multiple participants)
  • saving of conversation log in HTML

What notably objectionable/harmful features are eliminated/restricted?

  • AOL Lifestream
  • public profile directory listing (and reachability)
  • shopping tabs
  • music playing/browsing tabs
  • advertising banners (top of buddy list)
  • stock & news tickers
  • excessive and unprofessional sound effects
  • bundled media player (Viewpoint) w/ adware
  • bundled online game network (WildTangent)
  • bundled AOD (AOL on Desktop) essentially monitoring spyware
  • AIM expressions (loud and busy background)
  • Buddy icons (animated)
  • AIM Today (tabloid style news site)
  • AOL Search
  • file sharing (acting as file server)
  • announcing to the world what song you're playing
  • tie to AOL email
  • voice calls & video calls

How safe/dangerous is it?

  • much safer than web & email
    • no default and passive acceptance
    • harder to leverage massive abuse
    • far more obscure
  • optional encryption available:
    • requires installation and configuration of PKI certificate
    • addresses: authenticity, confidentiality, integrity and irrefutability

Other related solutions: status, niche/purposes?

  • MiniAIM: part of our stand-alone portable toolkit
  • IM+ on Android platform (multi-protocol mobile client)
  • Pidgin: a fork of open source GAIM, cross-platform (OS), multi-protocol
  • EM2: ultra lite client for AIM

My IM Services History

1981 The Source
1981 CompuServe CB
1981 RBBS (various)
1983 MCI Mail / Telex
1985 Prodigy (IBM Sears CBS)
1985 GEnie
1990 IRC EFnet
1990 GEOS / Quantum / PC Link
1991 AOL / Promenade
1996 ICQ
1997 AIM
1997 IRC IRCnet
1998 Yahoo Messenger
1999 MSN / Live
2003 Skype
2009 WhatsApp
2011 Facebook
2011 Google+



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