America Online Inc. and WebEx Communications Inc. are teaming up to provide a business version of AOL's popular AIM instant-messaging software.
Called AIM Pro, the business version will offer more security — communications, for instance, will be encrypted — and more features to help workers collaborate, using conferencing tools offered by WebEx, based in Santa Clara, Calif.
AIM Pro users can communicate with those on the basic AIM, although not all features, including encryption, would be fully available.
Prices were not announced, but AOL said a monthly subscription fee is likely. Individual employees will be able to subscribe, or a company may order a version with centralized management controls for all its workers.
Instant-messaging took off among home users first, but in recent years employees have installed the software, usually on their own, as an alternative to phones and e-mail.
AOL, a unit of Time Warner Inc., responded by developing add-ons such as teleconferencing and Web conferencing aimed at small businesses. AOL said AIM Pro goes further by offering standalone software built expressly with businesses in mind.
"The new service will bring business-class IM, online conferencing, collaboration, desktop sharing and advanced multimedia services to the global workplace," said Brian Curry, vice president for premium and subscription services at AOL.