Friday, March 22, 2002

WSJ.com - Technology: AOL's Latest Internal Woe: 'You've Got Mail' -- 'Oops, No You Don't' "In a humbling reversal, AOL Time Warner Inc. is retreating from a top-level directive that required the divisions of the old Time Warner to convert to an e-mail system based on AOL software and run by America Online's giant public server computers in Virginia... The drive to get all the company's 82,000 employees to use AOL e-mail was an attempt to give symbolic resonance to the marriage of AOL and Time Warner, the largest corporate merger in U.S. history and perhaps the most-scrutinized litmus test for the marriage of the old and new economies. Instead, management got months of complaints from both senior and junior executives in the divisions involved, who said the e-mail system, initially designed for consumers, wasn't appropriate for business use. Among the problems cited: The e-mail software frequently crashed, staffers weren't able to send messages with large attachments, they were often kicked offline without warning, and if they tried to send messages to large groups of users they were labeled as spammers and locked out of the system. Sometimes, e-mails were just plain lost in the AOL etherworld and never found. And if there was an out-of-office reply function, most people couldn't find it... The e-mail problems have led many staffers to resume pre-Internet habits. Employees say they are faxing and using Federal Express more than before. They also are picking up the phone or wandering down the corridors in search of human contact. "If all goes well, we'll never have to use e-mail and we'll have to start talking to each other again," says one magazine writer." Oops.

The various types of e-mail software used by employees aren't the same as those used by America Online subscribers at home. Instead, the divisions customized AOL products, such as those from its Netscape unit."
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