AOL changes name of Web mail service

America Online has announced a new name for a two-year-old service that lets subscribers access their e-mail accounts from any PC with a browser and online access.

AOL Mail on the Web is the new name for AOL NetMail, which has become very popular since its launch despite some confusion over the name, said John Ayers, vice president of AOL.com. Ayers said AOL subscribers too often thought of NetMail as a service offered by another company.

"One of the most recent focus groups told us the AOL NetMail brand name didn't translate," Ayers said. "They thought it was a different product, and so we changed the name."

AOL subscribers can access their e-mail using Mail on the Web the same way they accessed it using NetMail 2.0: by entering their screen name and password on the AOL.com home page. The service lets members use their e-mail accounts as if they were at their own PC. They can read their e-mail, respond to messages, save and forward e-mail, and send new messages.

Though people who used NetMail 2.0 in the past will notice little change, Ayers said AOL made some improvements to address scalability and accessibility on the back end before deploying Mail on the Web.

Mail on the Web does not require any downloads, and Active X controls, plug-ins or Java applets are not needed. The service is compatible with any Internet-connected computer, including those running Macintosh or Unix operating systems, provided they are running a Web browser equivalent to or higher than Internet Explorer 3.0 and Netscape 3.0.

To protect members' screen names and passwords, Mail on the Web provides a secure encrypted login using SSL, Ayers said.

NetMail was used by millions of AOL members every day, and AOL has been pleased by the growth in its popularity over the past six to 12 months, according to Ayers, but he declined to say exactly how many subscribers use the service.

Mail on the Web is part of a strategy called AOL Anywhere, an initiative to extend AOL services to other platforms, including television, wireless telephones and handheld devices, Ayers said.

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