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aim vs skypeCall me stuck in the past, but AIM 5.9.6089 is still my instant messenger of choice. I don’t look for a lot when I’m instant messaging, and AIM 5.9 is very lightweight and gets the job done just as I expect it. We’re in the age of Skype though, which has quickly taken over as the world’s most popular and used platform. Our younger readers may not even know what the hell AIM is anymore, actually.

AOL seems to recognize that sentiment and they’ve recently and unofficially dropped AIM on us, dubbed “AIM Preview“. It looks like Skype, it chats like Skype, and it weighs like Skype. But it’s AOL Instant Messenger.

aim vs skype

As you can see, I haven’t put much use to it as I’m not a very big fan. First thing you’re going to notice is that AIM has been completely redesigned. It looks nothing like it did in versions 5, 6, or 7. It’s nice and fat now, just like Skype. We’ve got a lot going on here.

  1. Lifestream (which is your “status updates” of the AIM world) has been stripped away with and, well, replaced with real status updates (the Facebook kind). AIM updates still exist, they’re just a little more useless now.
  2. As aforementioned, Facebook has now become integrated with your AIM experience.
  3. Your buddy list has been transformed in a way that mingles Facebook buddies, contacts, and recent chats. It’s another overhaul that has AIM looking a lot more like Skype.
  4. Along with Facebook, you can chat with Google Talk buddies through AIM. This already existed if you didn’t know about it. AIM & Google Talk To Become Interoperable [News] AIM & Google Talk To Become Interoperable [News] In 2007 Google enabled AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) users to log in via the Google Talk "Chat" area in the Gmail sidebar, bringing the two services closer together. This made it easier to stay in... Read More
  5. Photos and videos are synced inline on the client. Chat histories are now stored remotely (rather than locally), which enables seamless synchronization between devices (at the expense of your security).
  6. There’s a news feed, where AIM promoted their Huffington Post. Not much more to say here.
  7. One-on-one video chatting and group messaging (more features pulled from Skype) are now with AIM. I guess this is what they decided to do with AV?

Nothing too unique or exciting is going on here. Maybe it was AOL jumping the gun on Microsoft acquiring Skype, maybe it’s AOL trying to salvage their last true-to-the-company web property that is still used daily by thousands of people.

aim or skype


In any event, it’s a breath of fresh air to a near-dead messenger and that’s about it. If you’ve instant messaged at all in the past couple years, this isn’t bringing anything new to the table. I can’t think of any real compliment here, though it seems as if this preview version isn’t as riddled with ads as others. You can get rid of ads in older versions of AIM quite easily, though.

It’s not worth your time, guys. Stick with Skype and let’s consider AIM an afterthought unless you, like me, need a barebones solution to IM-ing (in which case, I again recommend a much older version of AIM). Anyone else suddenly feeling nostalgic and missing those days when AOL was relevant? I can hear the modem dialing up now.

aim vs skype

I’m not trying to beat up on poor old AIM. This is only a “preview” release, after all. Again, you can pick it up here:
Luckily, it doesn’t install over your old version of AIM and will write to a new directory, so there’s really no risk in at least giving it a shot.

It’s out on every platform: desktop, mobile, and web. You can get it on your iPhone or Android. I was really looking for AIM to be the first IM client that picks up the ball and adapts to the mobile world with a new release. I know you can send SMS messages from AIM, but adopting a more “permanent” solution like Textfree’s method Send Text Messages From Your iPhone/iTouch or Desktop With Textfree Send Text Messages From Your iPhone/iTouch or Desktop With Textfree One of my biggest pet peeves is having to constantly check through text messages while I'm on my desktop or laptop at my desk. I've always thought it was be so much easier to have... Read More would have been cooler.

Let me know if you guys find anything interesting with the new version that I may have skipped out on. I gave it a quick whirl after reading a few reviews and came to a pretty quick decision. Nothing new here!

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  1. Bogdan
    January 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Skype Linux support is afwul. But this doesn't even have a Linux version. So bye.

  2. Joel Lee
    January 17, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Old school AIM during the AOL days was awesome. Rate limits, warning percentages, buddy icons... oh dear. AIM Preview looks interesting but I think I'll wait until it's officially polished up before I give it a shot.

    • Chris Hoffman
      January 17, 2012 at 11:36 am

      Those were the days. Even AIM 5.9, which Craig uses, seems way too new-school for me.

      I switched to Pidgin long ago and use it to this day. It's one of the few things I've been unable to replace with a web app (as good as is.)