Aol is particularly sniffy to those who don't do it their way!
I have used it exclusively for over 7 years so am clearly predjudiced.
If you are serious about a dial-up contract, then install the software and let Aol guide you setting up your account. You should qualify for a month's free trial, (but if you don't like it be sure to cancel before the month is up!)
Once you are a "member" I think you can explore your own short cuts to internet explorer using your allotted dial-up number and screenname.