Turning off the multihead unwinds one of the most over engineered solutions in the history of messaging. Â When AOL and Google did the original deal around messaging in 2006, we were not ready to do federation, so we proposed a multihead. Â At the time the negotiations started Google only had a desktop client, but soon after we started talking Google unleashed something called Caribou on us. Â Caribou was the code name of Gtalk in GMail, and needless to say it threw a wrench into our plans. Â In the end Google wrote a server side multiheaded experience using a client side library that had to handle 1000s of threads. Â It was a miracle it worked, and a lot of great engineers made it happen. Â Thank goodness we can turn it off now.
With federation comes the hope that we can break down the walls of the IM networks that have existed for 12+ years. Â For users they get the ability to talk to their friends regardless of networks and use the application they like best. Â For the networks, federation means an application battle royale. Â Personally, I will use GTalk when I am at my laptop at work since we use Google Apps here at Clearspring. Â For my iPhone and iPad I use AIM because Google’s mobile experience on iOS is lacking.
Let’s hope that the other networks can figure out how to federate with each other and we can all stop using clunky multiheaded IM applications.
It definitely brought a smile to my face to see Gizmodo praise AIM 5.x. Â My favorite AIM version I worked on was AIM 5.5 on Windows, back when I still used a Windows machine. Â That particular client really was close to perfect, and achieved perfection thanks to James Dennis’ DeadAIM addon that removed the Ad and added a few other key features. Â CNet calls it plain, but by then we had built a nice Expression engine and had audio and video chat.
What made AIM so important back then was the away message which were as irrelevant as a lot of Tweets are today, like “In the Shower” or “I am watching Survivor.” Â We used to watch our users in usability tests view each of their friends Away Messages. Â It even drove us to create a simple web page where you could view all of your buddies current Away Messages and their profiles.
Ah, profiles, 1024 Â characters (HTML markup included) of personalized goodness. Â This was MySpace years before Tom became everyone’s friend. Â Profiles were so important, that when we launched the ill fated AIM Triton without profiles, I added an AIM plugin to put them back. (Props to Justin for keeping his old Running Man blog alive on Blogspot after AOL Journals was shut down.)
So while Gizmodo declares AIM dead, I think they missed the AIM Desktop death by a few years. Â AIM is making a big push on being a web destination and they still have a respected mobile experience. Â Hopefully AIM 5.5 can rest in peace, as the real-time communication platform moves on to what’s next.
I am proud that the last thing I worked on during my 11 years at AOL finally was released yesterday. AIM AV was something that was a long time coming. It addressed two of the bigger weaknesses AIM suffered. It was getting lapped by messaging clients on the web by Meebo and GTalk among others. The other area AV addresses is a new set of audio and video technology.
AV finally starts to get AIM away from the original audio video stack I wrote with others back in 2003 and refreshed in 2006. I am proud of the work we did 5+ years ago when we had the foresight to move away from Microsoft RTC and integrate ON2’s VP7 and Global IP Solutions. Later both those companies were acquired by Google and now make up a major part of WebM.
The new experience lowers the barrier to entry, where anybody can arrive at aim.com/av and immediately start a video conversation with a friend. Â With no download necessary, getting non-technical people to use the product is super easy, no Geek Squad required. Â Simply just copy and send the link. The team did a great job getting AV out the door and making it the easiest audio and video experience on the internet, congrats guys.