I was just reading over at News.com that the new AIM mail service debuted today. So, in typical geek fashion, I hightailed it on over to check it out.

I find the interface pretty interesting. It’s simple and uncomplicated (unlike the AOL desktop application). The only noise comes from the omnipresent banner ad that lives in the middle of the screen. There’s a lot of JavaScript behind the scenes: a browser sniffer, hidden iframes…all kinds of good Ajax stuff. As an added bonus, most of the JavaScript code isn’t obfuscated (though comments have obviously been stripped) so it’s easy to see exactly what’s going on behind the scenes.

The one major downfall in the interface, in my opinion, is the use of popup windows. What made GMail my favorite was that it didn’t use any popup windows. AIM mail uses popups for a variety of things. Still, you can’t help but admire the cleanliness of what was seemingly a Mac-inspired user interface design. With cool features like an away message, it very well could end up giving GMail a run for its money.

Disclaimer: Any viewpoints and opinions expressed in this article are those of Nicholas C. Zakas and do not, in any way, reflect those of my employer, my colleagues, Wrox Publishing, O'Reilly Publishing, or anyone else. I speak only for myself, not for them.