Gmail users can sign into AIM through the "set status here" menu, Google said. AIM contacts and Gmail chat will appear on the same menu.Google says you'll also be able to see if people you're sending an e-mail to are available for live chat on AIM instead.
Google said it was rolling out the new feature on the English version of Gmail on Tuesday. AIM access will be available on other language versions of Gmail soon, the company said.
"We're always looking for new and useful ways to help our users connect with friends, family, and coworkers," Google said in a statement.
The ability to connect to AIM through Gmail is a "very big deal," said Michael Osterman, founder of messaging analysis firm Osterman Research. About 75 percent of people who use IM in business settings use AIM or the AIM enterprise product, he said.