Mac UK

AOL UK Dropping Mac Software

And a look at the AOL Client for Mac OS X

Dirk Pilat - 2001.12.13

Good day to you, ladettes and lads out there in the virtual world!

While you are slowly but surely being taken over by the holiday bug (whether it is Ramadan, Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas, or any other semispiritual or paganic holiday you might be having) or desperately trying to escape the Christmas melee, I was sitting one particularly dreary evening last week in front of my iBook, browsing through the digital desert out there for any inspiration, when a young snapper on AOL send me iBookan IM asking me to join the highly secretive "Macaction Committee."

Asking what this was all about, I was being passed on to his cell-boss, who informed me that they were actively campaigning against AOL UK's decision to stop development on any more Mac software. This deemed me rather curious, as I just one hour prior to this little chat happily downloaded the new OS X client for AOL from Apple's FTP server. After a bit of adjusting to UK settings, I was quite happy to use it.

Not that I'm a huge AOL fan, but for my simple needs at the moment, it serves it's (limited) purposes. Anyway, the catch is, that although AOL US is still distributing its Mac clients, AOL UK will stop. This means that the sole purpose people have been using AOL - sticking a CD in your Mac, and hey, here you go - is no more. If you want to use AOL for OS X, you'll have to download it from somewhere, adapt it to UK's system, and only then you'll be able to use it. In other words, it's appeal for the (Mac) mass-market is gone.

I can hear you scream, "Why the hell have they done that?" Well, step forward AOL UK's Communication Officer Matt Peacock, who said to Macworld UK, "It's not possible for us to justify the considerable investment required to create a new localized version of our browser for a niche market platform such as OS X."

Now wait a minute, mate: You calling me a niche market? This raises a couple of questions: Either my prophecy has come true, and Apple is rapidly losing a place in the mass-market with the introduction of OS X, or AOL is just too daft to take the current (US) version of their OS X client and slap a couple of UK access numbers on it, as this was all I had to do to get it working.

But as this will be a task too complicated for the average AOL user, another incentive for your average first time Mac-Buyer will be gone. I can just hear it happening around the corner at PC World: "Aaaaah, that's a nice-looking computer: I saw Jeff Goldblum using one of those. Should I buy this one? Och nay, ya can't even put AOL on the thingie!"

Well, I have to admit that I have to take back a couple of things I've said about NeXTstep, er, Apple's newest baby. As skeptical I was, OS X has now been running for over two months on my iceBook without any (and I mean any) hitch.

Okay, it still doesn't support my Samsung Laser Printer, but that's something I can live with thanks to Classic. Apart from that, I didn't have to use the bloody terminal once (thanks to MacJanitor), but AOL UK obviously thinks that OS X is not worth an investment into the future.

Gosh, I really hate it when I'm right.

Anyway, I'll be back just before Christmas. Write to let me know what you want from me this Christmas (For this column, okay? No cheque requests or spam.), and I'll see what I can do!

Jingle, Jingle, Jingle. LEM

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