CompuServe has announced software designed to give new life to its online service, which has stumbled since it was bought by America Online last year.
As well as announcing CompuServe 4.0, the next version of its online software, the company also unveiled CompuServe Instant Messenger, which lets CompuServe users send messages "instantly" to other users, a feature currently available to users of AOL and Netscape's Navigator browser, according to Anne Bentley, a CompuServe spokeswoman.
Unlike CompuServe 3.0, which was written in a proprietary language, CompuServe 4.0 is written in HTML and uses other standard Web protocols as well, Bentley said.
CompuServe 4.0 features a condensed and simplified registration process, a new main menu designed to help users find what they want more quickly, and a New Member Center which helps new users get the most from using CompuServe, according to Bentley.
CompuServe is aiming its online service at "people we call 'serious about Internet online'," Bentley said.
Bentley said that the company's target audience is not necessarily the business user -- target customers may use the Internet to research or solve business or personal questions -- but the desired user will be an adult who uses the Internet not to randomly surf but for a specific purpose, she said.
"We're really looking to serve an audience which needs a tool," Bentley said.
CompuServe 4.0 is available in English in North America only. The company, based in Columbus, Ohio, plans no additional language versions of its online software until CompuServe 5.0, which is expected to be released early next year, according to Bentley. CompuServe 4.0 is available for US$25 a month for unlimited access or at hourly rates, she said.
CompuServe can be reached at http://www.compuserve.com/. AOL, in Dulles, Virginia, can be reached athttp://www.aol.com/.