AOL is planning to do some serious upgrading to AIM, its instant messaging software. The software will be given a complete overhaul, which will include changes to the user interface and much of the inner workings. The new UI will reflect increased functionality to AIM, including video and audio communication, as well as connections with wireless devices.

"This [early] beta is the first of many steps we're taking to improve this application. Over the coming months going into the fall what you'll see is that every few weeks there will be an incremental improvement made to the product," says Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president and general manager of AIM and ICQ at Dulles, Virginia-based AOL. "By the end of the fall, it will be more than a beta, more of a full product that we feel comfortable upgrading people to and recommending as a next step for AIM."

The abovementioned beta of this next-generation AIM, code-named Triton, is now available for free download at