AOL.com is finally letting down the walls of its proverbial “garden” a bit, moving more in the direction of an Internet portal or starting point -- first by giving access to external e-mail services “Yahoo Mail, Gmail, and Hotmail” from AOL.com, and next with links to outside social networks and other non-AOL content.
“We need to embrace the reality that you visit other sites and become more of a launch pad to your other online experiences,” admitted AOL's Sanjay Nayar in a blog post yesterday. “We realize that AOL.com is not the only Web site that you use and that you may, like many of us, have multiple e-mail accounts with different providers. Why shouldn't you be able to preview all your e-mail in one place?”
“Microsoft does not provide us the ability for you to access your account via AOL.com,” Nayar said. “If you want to access the Hotmail preview panel, you'll have to swap it out with one of the ones already there by clicking on the arrow in the corner. Keeping that in mind, we've done what we can for our Hotmail users and provided a link to Hotmail. Hopefully that will make it a little easier to access your account from AOL.com. If interested, feel free to send Microsoft some feedback to let them know you'd like to be able to do this on AOL.”
Users can also replace the e-mail previews with other options such as eBay, TMZ, Music, and Radio, according to Nayar. Some of those options, though, link to other AOL properties, such as TMZ. Likewise, a new "extended navigation bar" will also link to other AOL entities -- including TMZ, StyleList, and ParentDish, for example.