America Online on Friday will launch a "Members First" download campaign for AOL 9.0 Optimized, a new version of the service that the company hopes will speed up slow broadband subscriber growth and stem the loss of narrowband customers.
AOL for Broadband customers with Microsoft Windows XP and Windows 2000 operating systems will be the first to get a taste of the new software. AOL will release the software commercially sometime this fall.
Among the new features, Optimized will include spam filters, a "TopSpeed" Web accelerator, 3D animated "SuperBuddy Icons" and a batch of new instant messaging elements, including the ability to add personalized expressions.
With broadband in mind, the updated service will also offer 175 streaming audio radio stations and an integrated "Video@AOL" feature for breaking news, weather forecasts and sports, movies and games-related video content.
AOL will back the new version with a new marketing campaign made up of online promotions, brand advertising and the distribution of CDs via retail stores.