Despite its acquisition by AOL, Compuserve will keep its own identity with the release of version 5.0 of its software next year, the company said this week.
Compuserve 5.0 will share AOL's technology using Html and other Web standards. It will incorporate an instant messenger feature and a "buddy list", so you can track when friends and colleagues are online and talk to them realtime.
"5.0 will be built on Compuserve's heritage, but AOL's technology will make it easier to use and far more accessible," explained Mayo Stuntz Jr, president of Compuserve Interactive Services.
He is adamant there is a market for the two brands - AOL and Compuserve - despite there being some overlap in member's interests. Unlike AOL, which is designed for the mass consumer market, Compuserve will be targeted at "busy adults who have a serious online interest," he said.
"It will carry a breadth and depth of information with intelligent forum groups that have been self-selected, rather than walking into a chatrooms at random," he added.
"Compuserve users see the service as a means to an end," explained Stuntz. "Unlike AOL users who spend 45 minutes a day or more online, Compuserve users usually log on for 10 minutes morning and night, check mail and see if anyone has answered any queries they had."
Compuserve 5.0 will retain its serious sophisticated tone, but will be faster and better organised, promised Stuntz. The opening page will carry 20 channels with direct links to the information. On the left side there will be the top news story updated hourly and ticker taped news across the top of the page.
"It will be about getting information fast and efficiently," said Stuntz, who declined to comment on possible subscription costs for the upgraded service.
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