Days after the shipping of AOL 5 for the Mac, Macworld has learned that AOL 6 is scheduled – tentatively - for release in the autumn, and AOL 7 could arrive in March 2001.

According to sources, AOL 6 will address some of the disparities between the Mac and PC version of the client, including the lack of an individual address book.

The browser won't be updated to integrate Microsft's IE 5, as AOL is not yet permitted to use the code in the client. The company is also waiting for the release of Netscape's Gecko engine before considering a switch to a Netscape-based browser. The instant messaging system in the current version is not due to be upgraded in AOL 6, although version 7 might include the code of AIM 4.

AOL 6 will not run in the Mac OS X Carbon or Cocoa environments, but sources say AOL 7 could be re-written in Cocoa. This, however, is still under discussion.

A spokeswoman for AOL UK was unable to comment on the details or the release schedule of future versions of AOL.