I’m baaaaack. Welcome to the 21st century. Unless you’re a Mac user on AOL. Their numbers are dwindling. That’s as it should be.
In that case, you’re still stuck back in the last century using a desktop metaphor that was old a decade ago, ground up, mashed, regurgitated, and still ugly as Tommy Lee Jones’ twin brother.
I don’t know what to say about AOL. I had one of the first AOL accounts back when modems were slower than sneaker net or Jessica Simpson. If Fisher-Price designed a desktop metaphor of internet user tools and utilities, it would be AOL.
For some reason, AOL, the folks who rescued Netscape Navigator only to let it languish, then relaunched, then euthanized Netscape, still thinks computer users on the internet need big, ugly, nameless icons to browse the web and use email.
AOL touts the new Desktop for Mac as Your Online Life Organized. And, Built For Mac Users, By Mac Users. Microsoft can get away with such bold statements because Microsoft Office for Mac is decent software.
AOL Desktop for Mac? Puhleeze. All I can figure is that the designers named ‘Mac’ at Fisher Price worked overtime to reanimate the carcass of AOL versions past. Behold. A desktop zombie.
Oddly enough, the latest version of AOL desktop works well, which is more than Mac users can say about previous attempts from AOL to remember that Mac users are indeed ‘different’ than Windows users.
The new Desktop for Mac is an all-in-one creation which features such futuristic and electrifying components such as web browsing, email, and instant messaging.
Hello? Don’t Mac users already have easy-to-use browsing, email and instant messaging in the form of Safari, Mail, and iChat (which, strangely enough, is actually compatible with AOL instant messaging).
Didn’t somebody at AOL look at this multi-million dollar project to reinvent the internet for AOL users by offering browsing, email and IM, and stand there and say, “Why bother?” Alright, so they didn’t. Let me do it.
Honestly. I thought AOL died already. Didn’t Time-Warner spin them off to Google, or Yahoo! or the Elbonian Mac Users Group? I was sure they went someplace, but no, first thing this morning I get an email inviting me to try the new AOL Desktop for Mac.
I downloaded this little ditty, my mousing fingers all twittering with girlish nervousness, circa first date syndrome, and double-clicked. Woooooosh.
The whole top of my screen grew a two-foot long icon bar with 20th century icons for Mail, IM, Web, Welcome, News, Chat, Music, Movies, People, and the all important Feedback which has sound waves emanating from the guy’s ear.
Getting started was nothing more than entering my Screen Name and Password and clicking Sign In. How quaint. The familiar Welcome voice hit my speakers, as did the You’ve Got Mail announcement. My God, I thought, it truly is deja vu all over again. I felt like I was back in 1994 with a brand new 28k modem.
Everything pretty much happens through the browser window, except email which gets its own window, and, oddly enough, looks a bit like Apple’s Mail. Except for that L.L. Bean leaderboard sized ad banner floating across the bottom.
Hey, AOL Desktop for Mac is free, so somebody’s gotta pay the freight, right? That’s what my eyeballs are for.
Preferences are simple enough for even Mac OS Classic users to feel right at home. You can set the default Mail Reader, Web Browser, and AIM client to something other than AOL, like Mail, Safari, and iChat.
Once I did that I thought, now, ‘why am I using Desktop for Mac?’ I forgot.
I couldn’t help but thinking that I could do exactly the same thing for you simply by collecting a bunch of bookmarks for, oh, I don’t know, News, Music, Movies, People, Finance, Sports, etc., and let you use them on your Mac and call the whole package Bambi’s Internet Experience, 2008.
Suddenly, I thought, hey, wait a minute. Cut them some slack. AOL is still mostly made up of dial up users, right? They just don’t know any better. Those folks use a browser for news and email and that’s about it. Ever tried to watch a streaming video from Playboy.com on dial up?
I signed out and decided to move on with something else to take up my time and remind me that even in this modern day of high technology, there’s always someone willing to give us a look at yesteryear’s technology.
Then I heard that famous AOL voice say, “Goodbye.” I smiled, and responded with a polite “and good riddance,” selected the AOL Desktop for Mac icon, and clicked delete.