AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) is a free, advertisement-supported proprietary instant messaging and presence computer program which uses the OSCAR instant messaging protocol and the TOC protocol. It was released by AOL in May of 1997. It is one of the most popular instant message programs in the United States. About
AOL Instant Messenger is an instant messaging application that allows all registered users to communicate in real time via text, voice, and video over the Internet. Stand-alone official AIM client software is available for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and Mac OS X, and Linux. The software has a large share of the instant messaging market (with 52% of the total reported as of 2006), placing it ahead of the combined total user base of the two closest rivals.It is maintained by AOL LLC. History
Since version 2.0, AIM has included person-to-person instant messaging, chatroom messaging, and the ability to share files peer-to-peer with one's buddies. Versions 4.3 introduced the storing of one's contact list on AOL's servers and allowed for a maximum of 200 buddies to be stored. In addition, somewhere in the 4.x versions, the AIM client for Microsoft Windows added the ability to play games against one another using the WildTangent engine. The first version released with WildTangent did not warn the user that it was going to be installed. Newer versions do, due to the fact that many spyware scanners flag the WildTangent software as spyware.AIM version 5.5 allowed Windows users to video conference with each other and with users of Apple Computer's previously released iChat. Later updates led the version of AIM to version 5.9.The successor to AIM version 5.9 was originally named AIM Triton. Compared with version 5.9, Triton's programming code was rewritten and featured a brand new UI engine called Boxely. The first beta version of Triton (0.1.12) supported only Windows XP. upon its release. For the first time in the development of a new version of AIM, these preliminary versions were made publicly available on the AIM home page for any user to test and provide feedback.On September 29, 2006, Triton was renamed to AIM 6.0 and a new Beta version was made available. This version again changed the UI (albeit slightly). The final stable version of AIM 6.0 was released on December 15; new features included connection to AIM Pages, extra customization, and compatibility with address book programs and sites through a "Universal Address Book" powered by Plaxo. Additionally, the upgrade unified away messages and general user updates into RSS feeds and added the ability to send messages to offline users. Features that were missing from the prior version were added too, such as the 'Get File' function, global font customization, and a smaller cache usage. Also with this release was the opening of AIM to developers, which allowed anyone to create plug-ins or custom AIM clients for Windows, Macintosh, or Linux.The next version, 6.1, added Buddy List docking, support for inserting images into Buddy Info, the ability to change the highlight colors of the UI, the ability to sign on as invisible, improvements to the displaying of Linked Screen Names, several bug fixes, and improved Windows Vista support.The present newest edition to Aim is Aim 6.5 it allows users to have up to 600 buddies, you can write a message status, and you can make a profile.Apple iChatMain article: iChat
Apple's iChat software was released in June 2003 for Mac OS X and was the first AIM-compatible client to allow for audio and video conferencing over the AIM protocol. While introducing it, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that iChat was the first AIM client not made by AOL to be officially recognized by AOL. Protocol
The standard protocol that AIM clients use to communicate is called OSCAR. Most AOL-produced versions of AIM and popular third party AIM clients use this protocol. However, AOL also created a simpler protocol called TOC that lacks many of OSCAR's features but is sometimes used for clients that only require basic chat functionality. The TOC/TOC2 protocol specifications were made available by AOL, while OSCAR is a closed protocol that third parties have had to reverse-engineer.In January 2008, AOL introduced XMPP support for AIM. This means that AIM users can now communicate using the standardized, open-source XMPP/Jabber protocol. Weaknesses
AIM is known for security weaknesses that have enabled exploits to be created that use third-party software to perform malicious acts on users' computers. Although most are comparatively harmless, such as being kicked off the AIM service, others perform potentially dangerous actions such as harvesting IP addresses and sending viruses over a direct connection. Some of these exploits rely on social engineering to spread by automatically sending instant messages that contain a URL accompanied by text suggesting the receiving user click on it, an action which leads to infection. These messages can easily be mistaken as coming from a friend– for example, "Click here to see pics of me from vacation!"– and contain a link to a web address that installs software on the user's computer to restart the cycle.Also, Viewpoint Media Player, a plugin used for displaying proprietary graphical content, is installed with the AIM client software and sends information about the user back to its developer.It should also be noted that AIM has not been updated on the Apple Inc. Macintosh Platform since 2004. This is likely due to the fact that most AIM users on the Mac opt to use Apple's own iChat software. Configuration
AIM is different from other clients such as Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger in that it does not require approval from one buddy to be added to another's buddy list. As a result, it is possible for users to keep other unsuspecting users on their buddy list to read their profiles or see if they are online (if the other user had blocked them before). However, one can block another user from communicating and also enhance privacy by selecting a menu option allowing communication only with those on one's buddy list.
Block: If a user is feeling threatened or annoyed by someone, they can "block" the sender, which prevents the sender from contacting the user with his or her current screenname. If a user is blocked by someone, the blocking user will always be offline for them, although they might actually be online.Buddy Info: Information about the user that may be edited by the user. The user's buddies are able to view the information as a pop-up. There is a character limit that can't be exceeded.Buddy List: The centerpiece of AIM, a list containing the status of up to 1000 buddies stored on an AIM server so you can access this list from any instance of AIM. The status of the buddies can be seen as 'online', 'away', 'idle', 'mobile', or 'offline'.Direct connection: AIM users can, instead of relaying messages through the AIM server, connect to each other's computers directly via this method and send various forms of media.Screenname: Term for user name with AOL origins. These are available for free with registration at the AIM website.Spim: Spam over Instant messaging. The spam problem in e-mail has the potential to spread to Instant Messaging, in the form of on-line advertisements. As a closed network, AOL has been able to block most spam, but some still passes through to users.Rate limiting, which prevents a user from sending too many messages in a short amount of time. Once a user is rate limited, they are unable to send messages for 20–30 seconds, but may still receive messages during this time period.Warning: If a user feels a received instant message is inappropriate, he can "warn" the sender, which increases the sender's warning level. Warning levels reduce the rate at which users can send messages and can eventually cause a given screen name to be unable to sign-on for a period of time. Since it was often abused, the feature is no longer supported in AIM Triton or AIM 6, although warnings have not been disabled serverside, meaning that older AIM clients, third-party clients, or user-written add-ons may still allow users to bypass the "soft" removal of warning capabilities.An AIM Closed List, Allow Only, Buddies Only, or Privacy refers to the option on the AOL Instant Messenger client to allow only users on a user's buddy list to contact them. This is to prevent harassment or spamming and is also a secure way to chat.Icon: A small, personalized picture that a user can set up to appear whenever they message another user. Miscellaneous
AIM Pages was released in May 2006, allowing the 63 million AIM users to create an online, dynamic profile. The buddy list serves as the basis for the AIM Page social network. An AIM Page is built using modules following the ModuleT microformat.In August of 2005, AOL launched the free webmail service AOL Mail. Versions
The official versions of the AIM software are as follows:Note: This list may be incomplete.
AIM 1.5.234, with an unknown release date (for various Linux distributions)AIM 1.5.286, with an unknown release date (for various Linux distributions)AIM 4.3, with an unknown release date (for Mac OS 8.6 and earlier)AIM 4.3.2229, released in 2000, included with Netscape Communicator.AIM 4.7.1333, released on February 27, 2004 (for Mac OS X and Mac OS 9)AIM 4.8.2790, released on November 26, 2001 (for Windows 95)AIM 5.0.2829, released in September 2002 (for Windows 98/NT4/ME/2000/XP)AIM 5.1.3101, released in November 2002 (for Windows 98/NT4/ME/2000/XP)AIM 5.2.3292, released in July 2003 (for Windows 98/NT4/ME/2000/XP)AIM 5.5.3595, released in May 2004 (for Windows 98/NT4/ME/2000/XP)AIM 5.9.3702, September 2004 (for Windows 98/NT4/ME/2000/XP)AIM 5.9.3797, unknown release date (for Windows 98/NT4/ME/2000/XP)AIM 5.9.3844, unknown release date (for Windows 98/NT4/ME/2000/XP)AIM 5.9.3857, unknown release date (for Windows 98/NT4/ME/2000/XP)AIM 5.9.6089, released on August 31, 2006 (for Windows 98/NT4/ME/2000/XP)AIM 188.8.131.52, released on November 15, 2006 (for Windows 2000/XP/XP/Vista x64)AIM 184.108.40.206, released on March 27, 2007 (for Windows 2000/XP/XP/Vista x64)AIM 220.127.116.11, released on May 3, 2007 (for Windows 2000/XP/XP/Vista x64)AIM 18.104.22.168, released on October 10, 2007 (for Windows 2000/XP/XP/Vista x64)AIM 22.214.171.124, released on October 26, 2007 (for Windows 2000/XP/XP/Vista x64)AIM 126.96.36.199, released on December 19, 2007 (for Windows 2000/XP/XP/Vista x64)AIM 188.8.131.52, released on January 9, 2008 (for Windows 2000/XP/XP/Vista x64)
AIM Pro 1.3 build 260, released on November 1, 2006 (for Windows 2000/XP)AIM Express, unknown release date, online version.AIM ET / LAIM / AIM Lite 0.31 Beta, released in 2006 (for Windows 2000/XP/Vista)AIM ET / LAIM / AIM Lite 0.31, released on December 11, 2006 (for Windows 2000/XP/Vista)AIM ET / LAIM / AIM Lite 0.32, released on March 27, 2007 (for Windows 2000/XP/Vista)AIM ET / LAIM / AIM Lite 0.33, released on June 8, 2007 (for Windows 2000/XP/Vista) Bots
AOL and various other companies supply robots on AIM that can receive messages and send a response based on the bot's purpose. For example, bots can help with studying, like StudyBuddy. Some are made to relate to children and teenagers, like Spleak or AOLSafetyBot (an AOL-run bot that provides information about staying safe online), others give advice, and others are for more general purposes, such as Smarterchild. Prior to the inclusions of such bots, the bots DoorManBot and AIMOffline provided features provided today by AOL for those who needed it. URI scheme
AOL Instant Messenger's installation process automatically installs an extra URI scheme ("protocol") handler into some web browsers, so that URIs beginning "aim:" can open a new AIM window with specified parameters. This is similar in function to the mailto: URI scheme, which creates a new e-mail message using the system's default mail program. For instance, a web page might include a link like the following in its HTML source to open a window for sending a message to the AIM user notarealuser:To specify a message body, the message parameter is used, so that the link location might look like this:To specify an away message , the message parameter is used, so that the link location might look like this:When placing this inside a URL link, an AIM user could click on the URL link and the away message "Hello, my name is Bill" would instantly become their away message.In addition, these can be placed and used within AIM.
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