From: c...@wavenet.com (Rich Maher)
Subject: New features of AOL - Letter from S.C.
organization: Norris-Repke, Inc.
Somehow, I'm on the mailing list of several AOL'ers. Here is one of
the tidbits, I have received. Enjoy:
June 9, 1996
It's almost the halfway point of 1996, and I thought it would be a
to give you a summary of the progress we have made so far on a number
Being the number one interactive service puts us in a position of
even harder to meet the demands of our members and potential members.
has grown more than tenfold in just two years, and last month we
million members. As more and more people become sophisticated with
services and the Internet, it's important that we provide you with a
where everything you need is easy to find, provides superior
capabilities, teaches and entertains you, brings you closer to others
the world -- and that we do this all in a quality, affordable fashion.
One of our great achievements of the year culminates this month with
release of the new AOL 3.0 for Windows. AOL 3.0 offers a much more
personalized experience, both in content and communication. We've
the technology so that you'll get art faster, browse the Web faster,
navigate the service easier. We've added features to customize your
find out which of your friends are online, and let you update the AOL
software automatically without re-installing.
Check out Keyword PREVIEW: There are so many enhancements and great
surprises with 3.0. Download the 3.0 software and come back to my
with the new version and check out some of our new areas and new
using one of them -- hyperlinks -- and cruise to other AOL areas!
* AOL 3.0 FOR WINDOWS *
* Faster Art
Art delivery has been a common complaint among our members. With AOL
say good-bye to the blue bar that reads, "Please wait while we add new
Now when you come into a new area, you'll see the page "progressively
render," which means that you'll reach the page and view interim icons
will let you continue to move through the area as the images are
coming in --
or back out of the area at any time, if you change your mind. This is
major time-saving step we think you'll really love. Now you can try
areas without having to wait for those darn art updates!
When you read this letter on AOL 3.0, you'll see I'm using what is
hyperlinked text. Just click on an area that I've underlined with
and you'll go instantly right to it. You can use this technique in
with 3.0 -- just drag and drop a Favorite Places heart icon from an
or Web site into the body of your e-mail, and it turns into a
When your reader clicks on the hyperlink, they'll go right to the
Web site you're referring to! No need to type Internet URLs or
You'll also see hyperlinks cropping up around the service within our
areas. It's one of the many features you'll find at keyword PREVIEW
download it now!
* Styled Text
Speaking of e-mail, you'll enjoy the advantages of styled text. That
you can change the color of text (or background); enlarge or reduce
of text; bold, italicize, and underline text; and align the text the
want. Now, writing and reading e-mail becomes much more expressive.
text is also offered via the Instant Message feature.
* Quicker Downloading of Web Pages
Surfing the Web is also easier and more fun. Our Web browser
compressed graphics so you'll see the images on Web pages faster.
estimated that our 3.0 browser is on average up to 35% faster than the
browser we've been using in AOL 2.5. That saves you time and money --
* Support for HTML 3.0 and Netscape Extensions; Better Security
We've added a number of features to support HTML (hypertext markup
, such as frames, font styles, text wrapping, and backgrounds. Plus
Web browser renders great-looking Web pages, including "Netscape
Our online shopping mechanism improves automatically as our Web
supports the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol. This adds greater
to online transactions and other confidential information that is
* New Toolbar
Many of you utilize the toolbar at the top of the AOL screen. You'll
it's bigger with colorful, easily identifiable icons that will take
the more popular areas on the service. You'll also be one click away
Find and Keyword. Find is now much easier for you to find what you
Keyword, as most of you know, helps you navigate directly to the
Get to know the toolbar along with some of these other great features
* Know when your friends are online
Create a Buddy List and you'll be alerted the moment one of your
associates comes online. Then, you can send them an Instant Message!
Macintosh members can currently customize preferences for being
* New Channels
Here's a good place to try out the hyperlinks! The Channels screen
the addition of several new channels, including Games, Health &
MusicSpace, International, Digital City, Style, and The Hub. There's
content, targeted to the increasingly diverse needs of our expanding
community. On the Channels screen, click on Presenting... to view
highlighted areas, and on the Welcome Screen, click on What's Hot to
latest recommendations which are updated daily.
* Find the areas that most interest you
We knew we had to improve the way you locate areas of interest, aside
our Channels menu. Whether you're new to AOL or you're a veteran,
trip to our new DISCOVER AOL area. Get acquainted with using e-mail,
boards, downloading files, and chat (and look for more tips at keyword
Tips). Be sure to sign up to receive daily or twice-weekly tips via
I strongly recommend this, as it is a convenient way to learn how to
time and money and get more value from AOL.
Keyword PREVIEW also takes you on a tour of many of the features that
mentioning in this letter.
* My AOL
We have substantially expanded the ways you can personalize AOL to
own particular interests -- and we've centralized all these tools in a
place called "My AOL." Here you can create a personalized news
personalized stock portfolio (this feature has been expanded
personalized address book (to make it easy to remember e-mail
friends and associates), to set up parental controls (so you can
content your kids can access), or to customize your preferences to
AOL software work for you. Click on the 3.0 tool bar icon to get to
* A Whole New Look
Last but not least, our look has changed at the top levels of the
providing a much more colorful interface, including the Welcome Screen
you sign on, the Channels screen (formerly the Main Menu), What's Hot,
icons, and reminders when you sign off. AOL has been recognized for
our friendly, intuitive, engaging interface; we think this facelift
that acclaim, raises our own standards up a notch, and provides a more
functional approach at the same time.
Finally, I encourage you once again to download the new 3.0 software
visit the preview area often when you're online with 3.0 to get more
and tips. Then return to this update at keyword LETTER and start using
* AOL 3.0 for Macintosh *
While I've talked about 3.0 for Windows, I'm proud to say that our 3.0
Macintosh -- which offers most of these same features -- is being
Beta testing, and that means that a general release of the final
scheduled for the fall. The new version will also incorporate
Internet Explorer as our standard browser, same as on Windows. We know
of our Mac members have been frustrated that Windows has received more
attention lately, but I am using an early "alpha" version of Mac 3.0
know you will be pleased with the product when it's unveiled this
* Other News *
Although a lot of attention has been focused on completing these new
versions, because we believe they will substantially improve your
experience, there are many other things we are doing to establish AOL
best place in cyberspace.
Many of you have been requesting a discount plan for active users, and
pleased to tell you that a new "20/20" pricing option will be
starting July 1. If you decide to switch to this option -- instead of
$9.95 a month for 5 hours of online time -- you will pay $19.95 a
20 hours of online time. This represents a substantial savings for
active customers, and it is also a tremendous value for families who
been worried about running up big bills. We know that many of you
reluctant to fully explore the diverse offerings of AOL and the Web
you were trying to budget the use of your 5 monthly hours; the 20/20
will enable you to relax and get the most out of AOL.
The 20/20 plan does not go into effect until July 1, so please do not
write until then. But starting July 1, you will be able to switch to
new high value option if you choose.
In addition to improving the AOL experience, and providing a
pricing option, we have also been hard at work on improving the
AOL. Our rapid growth in the past couple years has resulted in
quality problems, and we are taking steps to minimize the likelihood
problems going forward. We have substantially expanded the size of
AOLnet network, which is now in more than 400 cities, and we have also
increased the number of modems in each city. As a result, most of you
now connect at higher speeds, and problems with busy numbers have
(although we still are working on busies in certain cities, as well as
improving the reliability of the network infrastructure to reduce
We've also made great strides in terms of improving the quality of
services, so when you have a technical or billing question you can get
response. More than 3,000 people are now employed in our Member
group, so we're able to respond to e-mail inquiries within 24 hours
"hold times" when you call us for help have been cut to about one
average. (Some of you may recall the days when you often would have to
on hold for 20 or 30 minutes to talk with us, which was very
We're also making improvements to the quality and reliability of the
itself, by minimizing downtimes and reducing the "host not responding"
of problems. There's still work to be done on this front but we're
to report that the quality of AOL has improved considerably over the
>From a marketing standpoint, we are re-focusing our priorities to meet the
needs of existing members. As I mentioned earlier, we need to work
improving what we have (even with all the accomplishments) and make
existing 6 million members are excited about AOL before we reach out
* Awards We Are Proud Of *
We don't usually brag about awards we receive, as we know there is
to do to make AOL all it can be. But this month, there are two awards
do want to tell you about.
Last month, we received the Parent's Choice Gold Seal of Approval,
recognizes AOL's efforts to provide engaging and entertaining content
youngest members and being committed to a safe online environment. I
all parents of children online to not only share in your child's
in our Kids Only channel, but to familiarize yourselves with
tools to monitor your child's use of AOL at keyword PARENTAL CONTROLS.
We also received a nod from PC Magazine, which voted us "Editor's
the best online service. There's a lot of confusion these days about
whole interactive medium -- online services, the Web, bandwidth, open
standards -- and many people tend to lose sight of the most important
which is to create an interactive experience that is easy to use,
and affordable, and can excite the imaginations of tens of millions of
people. That's what AOL is all about, and the PC Magazine award
everything AOL stands for: one service, affordably priced, free and
access to the Internet, a well-organized and robust array of content,
to navigate, and a great-looking interface.
In the end, AOL is the Internet and more. It's everything you need to
communicate with others, receive news and information when you want
participate in a global community, and get on the best "on- ramp" to
If we're doing our job right, it is the only service you'll ever
That's it for this month. Thanks for reading.
HERE ARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE MONTH! Click on the hyperlinks and
What Is It ?!? (keyword What is it ?!?)
Feel like getting rich? Okay, just play this simple contest, and be a
winner of great prizes, like AOL leather jackets, modems, and other
And become eligible to win the grand prize, a one million dollar
The Style Channel (keyword STYLE CHANNEL)
We're proud to partner with ABC and its Fairchild Publications unit to
you the Style Channel, which debuts this month. For the
you'll find news and advice, celebrity gossip, live events, and games.
like some of the names they have for their specialized areas: Glam
Slam -- a
daily poll; Beauty Mark -- the hottest runway looks; Style911 --
advice from makeup artists and dermatologists; Eye Spy -- photos of
and worst-dressed celebs and a place to exchange star sightings; Make
-- pitch in and help a star get a new look; and I Date Models for
spend some virtual time with the beautiful people.
ABC ONLINE (keyword ABC)
ABC has a new look online. I think you'll find it much easier to
and find the features more important to you. They've organized it
Departments (News, Sports, Kids, etc.), plus member activities
boards, chat, games, etc.) ABC has made efforts to include member
throughout their area, too -- from the "Superfan of the Week" in ABC
to "Your Take" in InFocus (see below).
ABC News In Focus (keyword IN FOCUS)
The new "ABC News InFocus" area kicks off the month of June with a
"Sex, Drugs and Consequences." Other topics up for debate this month
Mr. Smith Leaves Washington (why so many politicians are quitting),
& Punishment in America, with emphasis on the role of the death
always, we encourage our members to join the debate.
International Channel (keyword INTERNATIONAL)
Our International Channel officially launches this month, so if
interested in discovering AOL overseas, chatting in a foreign
getting travel tips, and more, just dive in. You'll also get
using AOL international software and connecting to AOL abroad. Access
content from our services in the UK, Germany, France, and Canada.
Virtual Lot (keyword WB LOT)
Warner Bros. opens The WB Virtual Lot, letting you go behind the
the largest production studio in the world. Walk through Central Park
head over to visit the cast of ER. Watch Superman soar overhead as you
explore multimedia libraries. Great fun if you like hanging around
Excite (keyword EXCITE)
WebCrawler is our primary search engine, but we wanted to give you
options for searching the web, like the Excite search and directory
Excite's editorial reviews and Web site rankings make it much easier
to find the great content that's out on the Web. It's also easier for
do research, browse or explore, because now you can tell in advance
site is mediocre or great BEFORE you go there. That saves you from
download time to sites you don't really like. Click on "advanced
tips" and make your search even easier.
Hispanic Online (keyword LATINO)
AOL continually strives to bring you new areas which reflect our
community. This month, Hispanic Online becomes the center of Latino
on America Online. It's a great place where Latinos can meet, discuss
of importance to the community, and explore the wide-range of content.
You'll find information on entertainment, business, education,
more. Chat "en espanol" or in English.
Hobby Central (keyword HOBBY)
This has been an immensely popular area on AOL. Whatever your hobby
you'll find others who share the same interests at Hobby Central.
bird-watching to biking, comic book collecting to ham radios, dozens
hobbies are listed, with pointers to selected Web sites.
Alumni Hall (keyword ALUMNI)
Remember the all-night parties and the late-night study sessions?
what's going on at your alma mater? Reconnect with those great
and friends in Alumni Hall. You won't need to remember the school
song, but it will probably come back to you.
The Student's Election Handbook (keyword ELECTION HANDBOOK)
Here's a great study guide and resource for those who want to brush up
election process. Trivia buffs will enjoy learning interesting facts
past presidents, vice presidents and first ladies. And the monthly
contests are a great opportunity for kids to earn free America Online
and get their essays posted online.
Digital City (keyword DIGITAL CITY)
Think of Digital City as your local AOL. Get the information that is
happening in your town and interact with fellow residents: the latest
news, weather, traffic, sports reports, community events, school
and more. Search for a neighborhood restaurant that suits your taste,
sell a car or home, find a job, or chat. You may even discover a new
relationship in the Personals area.
Digital City Heckling Clubs (Keyword: HO CLUBS)
Hecklers Online has teamed up with Digital City to bring you the
most happening clubs online: Digital City Heckling Clubs. Looks like
Hecklers -- who hail from Birmingham, Alabama -- are now creating
city-to-city challenges to find other great hecklers.
KidCare (keyword KID CARE)
We continue to introduce areas that focus on the family and parenting.
KidCare focuses on children's health. Learn about nutrition, safety,
development and fitness from child experts or other parents. Compare
best and worst products in "Parent's Picks." And participate in chats
special events that focus on the big issues.
Quotes & Portfolios (keyword QUOTES)
For those of you who like tracking your investments, you've probably
Quotes and Portfolios area. For one, we have improved the response
getting you the quotes, and we thank you for your patience. Now we've
a new feature. By clicking on the Portfolios button, you can keep
up to 20 individually named portfolios, and list up to 100 items in
Set up different portfolios, such as "Stocks I Own," "Stocks I'm
"College Fund", and "Mutual Funds." No more having to switch to
screen name to track a different portfolio! And, be sure to make each
your portfolios a "Favorite Place" for quick access.
Best of the Rest...
Our Personal Finance channel has introduced The Online Investor,
easy-to-understand tips on how to use the information provided in the
Research area, at keyword OI ....This month chat with Olympian Carl
baseball's Sparky Anderson, top NASCAR drivers and our very own
at keyword AOL SPORTS LIVE! ..... Replace lost or stolen credit cards
enrolling in the American Express Credit Card Registry at keyword
EXPRESSNET.... Find all of your favorite Avon products, from Anew to
Skin-So-Soft, and select from a variety of shades and colors of
all at keyword AVON ..... Keyword @times is now providing twice-daily
news updates from The New York Times. Also, get complete coverage of
Presidential campaign in their special report, Politics '96.....New
features on AOL: Passport Newsletter Online (keyword PASSPORT
to explore the world of luxury travel, and Lanier Family Guides
LANIER FAMILY TRAVEL for listings on hotels, farms, resorts, and
activities which cater to families....Vanguard Online (keyword
introduces Account Access which enables Vanguard Fund shareholders to
current account balances, verify recent transactions, and check other
account-related information....Bring balance and excellence to your
keyword GOOD LIFE ....Everyone's taking cover at keyword TORNADO!
where you'll get tornado news and facts, read survivors' accounts, and
Don't forget: Never reveal your password to anyone. AOL employees
never ask you for it, no matter how official-sounding they appear.
incidents at keyword GUIDEPAGER.
See you next month!