For many of us, CompuServe will always hold a special place as a haven for excellent technical information in the late 80s and early 90s and as the first way we surfed the Web from home.
However, the service faded in the late 90s and was acquired by AOL in 1998. Since then, it has become a subsidiary service of AOL.
But CompuServe 7.0, released last month, might be the first salvo in a renewed browser war. With Version 7.0, the CompuServe client no longer uses Internet Explorer but is now based on the Gecko browser engine—the one behind the Netscape and Mozilla Web browsers.
Many see this as AOLs trial run for a release of AOL based on Gecko, a move that could seriously cut into IEs browser share.
Based on my tests, CompuServe users should see little change. Besides Web browsing, most other features are based on separate clients or are Web-based. Most of the settings dialogs differ from the standard Mozilla ones, although features such as advanced cookie control are available.
The browser worked well in tests, but any site that doesnt display well in Netscape wont display well in CompuServe.
The CompuServe service is priced at $19.95 per month, and the new client can be downloaded at www.compuserve.com.