More AOL Crap

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
October 14th, 2003 • 4:37 pm

I am a very reluctant AOL user. I only use it because it is required for some of my work, and I try to LIMIT my use of it as much as I can. But sometimes I do have to use the AOL application.

I loathe everything about it, from the visual appearance to the innumerable windows that pop up without the user’s consent to the utterly unresponsive and unintuitive interface.

So when I read on MacCentral that AOL was releasing AOL Communicator for OS X, I became mildly curious about it.

As instructed in the MacCentral column, I launched AOL and used the keyword “AOL Communicator”. I went straight — as straight as straight can be in the AOL environment — to the “Download Now” window, and watched AOL starting to download… a file ending in “.exe”. Obviously, I interrupted the download and went back a few steps to CHECK the “system requirements”.

I was not surprised to find that Mac OS X support is not even mentioned. The system requirements are “Pentium PC running Windows blah blah blah”.

Fine, I figured, AOL Canada is usually 3 years behind AOL US when it comes to Mac support, so I’d better go straight to the (US) AOL web site. I went there, logged in, and got more pop-up windows as a result, of course. I finally managed to get to the Downloads section and… same thing. “Download Now” initiates the downloading process for an “.exe” file, and there is absolutely no mention of a Mac version.

Never mind that I have been a Mac-using AOL customer for 5 years. Never mind that I had logged in, and therefore identified myself as the Mac user that I am. Never mind that AOL Communicator for OS X was announced on MacCentral yesterday.

As far as AOL is concerned, we Mac users don’t exist. They occasionally condescend to remembering our existence and pretend that they are releasing a software product for us. But, as this situation indicates, even then it’s far from certain that you’ll be able to find any information about it.

I know that the economics of the Mac market EXPLAIN why AOL can basically get away with ignoring/abusing its customers that way. I also understand, to a certain extent, how they can get away with abusing their PC-using customers as well. (The problems with multiple pop-up windows, spam, etc. are universal.)

What is less understandable is why nothing of this is ever mentioned in the mainstream Mac press. What is depressing is that AOL is yet another example of how the consumer software industry has become so user-unfriendly.

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