AOL 6.0 wreaks havoc with some PCs

AOL 5.0 was an unmitigated disaster for the online giant. Soon after its release, users began complaining about network settings getting blow away, key Windows files being rewritten, and in some cases, PCs becoming utterly inoperable.

Some of the exact same problems are beginning to crop up with AOL 6.0, launched last week.

This is AOL Inc.’s first client software designed to serve all of its dial-up, cable modem and DSL customers. Apparently the one-software fits all approach isn’t working out for all cable modem and DSL customers.

One Cox@Home cable modem Internet access customer says that AOL 6.0 “continually wipes out” all network settings. “Every time I ran [the software] it went into my network properties and changed not only my external NIC settings, but also the internal NIC settings to obtain a dynamic IP address,” says Mark Green, a mechanical engineer in Phoenix. The software did this time and again even though Green had his NIC cards configured for static IP addresses.

At press time AOL did not yet responded to Green’s complaint, he says.

In order to fix the problem Green ditched AOL 6.0 and reinstalled AOL 5.0, “which doesn’t’ contain the same bug and all network cards and static IP addresses are stable again,” he says.

Another long time AOL user says that the upgrade “has been a disaster.” “I have been using AOL for about five years and have never encountered problems with other upgrades,” says Richard Lopez, an attorney in San Francisco. But this is the first time I have upgraded with a DSL connection.”

Problems began immediately after downloading AOL 6.0 from the ISP’s Web site. “AOL 6.0 deleted my TCP/IP and network adapter settings within a few minutes,” Lopez says. After more than 4 hours of resetting protocol and adapter settings multiple times, an AOL customer service representative told the customer to delete AOL 6.0 and “forget about the upgrade.”

AOL has not yet responded to Network World’s request for information regarding user complaints about its latest software. But customer complaints about AOL software are not new. In fact, AOL is the subject of several class action lawsuits filed against the ISP regarding its AOL 5.0 software upgrade. The suits claim that AOL failed to inform customers that installing AOL 5.0 would make changes to user’s operating systems and interfere with user’s connection to their ISP.