America Online Unveils 5.0

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"You'll be able to cover the walls in one of your rooms," boasted an America Online exec to Reuters about the saturation mailings of AOL 5.0 disks about to be unleashed. The free-disk tactics have been instrumental for a decade now in making America Online the top online service, but the new version to be unveiled today in New York also hints at a post-PC world of Internet-enabled phones and TV boxes without 3.5-inch floppies.

The first effect of the upgrade, however, will probably be a mad rush for screen names and e-mail addresses. AOL 5.0 allows for longer names, up to 16 characters from 10, which should help unclog the congestion of numbered names that mark many America Online addresses even before hearing the "at A-O-L dot com." MORE>>