Although we have tried to make sure that our web site is usable by a wide variety of browsers we did elect to use some of the capabilities of the newer generation of web browsing clients. AOL has had the greatest degree of difficulty (read longest lag in implementing) the newer capabilities of HTML, JAVA, and various "Scripting" languages. These difficulties are compounded to some extent by "the browser wars" and implementation of HTML variants and different scripting "flavors" i.e. Netscape's Java Script and MSIE's Active X controls.
There is hope and help! You may not realize it, but you have the option of using the current (16 bit) versions of Netscape Navigator or MSIE with your AOL account if you use Windows 3.X or Windows95 and, as of very recently, AOL has made available an AOL "branded" version of MSIE v 3.02 for Win95 users! You can download all of the software you'll need plus the instructions by following these steps:
SIMPLEST UPGRADE (For Win95 users)
1. From the AOL Main Menu - click on the "Go To" menu and select Keyword, enter "upgrade" as the keyword then, after navigating thru a few AOL windows download the Windows 95 version of AOL 3.x with the built in, AOL-Branded version of MSIE (currently v3.02). Be prepared for a long download session the file being transferred, setup95.exe, is 11,299Mb. Make a note of where it is being downloaded (most likely to your folder C:\AOL30\DOWNLOAD, or C:\AOL25\DOWNLOAD - for those who are really behind :).
The download will take a few hours. When completed, and provided you didn't lose your connection during the download, exit AOL back to Win95. (I did lose the connection - twice- while making an upgrade for a neighbor friend, and despite the download automatically resuming on reconnection, the file was corrupt when I first attempted the upgrade installation).
2. After quitting AOL to Win95, use "my computer" or "Explorer" to navigate to the downloaded file. We'll assume it is at C:\AOL30\download\setup95.exe and double click on the upgrade program to launch it. This is a self extracting installation and upgrade program which will "bring forward" all of your files, preference settings, etc. from the older AOL version. The installation and upgrade process may take 10 to 15 minutes and does require "some" attention to on-screen prompts as they are presented.
I will give the programmers at AOL some credit with the upgrade program, it DID recognize - during my first upgrade attempt - (from the interrupted file transfer) that the program was corruptted and halted with an error message advising of this fact. The second download - not interrupted - went smoothly, although when prompted to review directory choices for the older "source version" and the newer "upgrade version" I did chose to rename the upgrade directory "c:\AOL30WIN95\" rather than the default choice "c:\AOL30A\". Your computer must be restarted for the changes to take place. On restarting, some additional "updating" will take place to your "Windows".
3. During installation, a "shortcut" can (or will) be added to your desktop, an item added to the start menu, and an additional AOL Win95 Version added to your AOL Program group. Any one of these methods may be used for access. Sign back on to AOL and check "Help / About" - it should report that you are now using "AOL Ver 3.0 for Windows95" You will also notice a significant improvement to the browser the first time you venture out onto the Web. Your "new browser" will now support backgrounds, frames, forms, tables, java and many of the other tools web designers are using to make their page presentations attractive and interactive, as well as being faster due to it now being a "32 bit" program.
Note: I trust that as a part of this upgrade (AOL ver 3.x for Windows95), that a 32bit internet communication program named WINSOCK.DLL - designed specifically to support AOL's methods was also installed. (This "may" support the installation of other 32bit Internet browsers - I have not tested this assumption.)
The following instructions are perhaps now outdated, but were appropriate for the installation, and use, of "external" internet browsers prior to the release of the AOL for Windows95 ver 3.0 Where the "NETSCAPE ver 3.x" browser is mentioned, MSIE ver 3.x for windows could also be downloaded from AOL.
- From the AOL Main Menu click on the "Go To" menu and select "Keyword", enter "Netscape" when prompted.
- From the Netscape Menu click on the "Download Netscape" icon.
- From the Download Menu you can select and print the installation instructions and download the two pieces of software you'll need... WINSOCK and Netscape Navigator.
- Follow the instructions for installing the software on your PC.
- Once the software is installed, logon to AOL and at the Main Menu, minimize the AOL screen and leave it running in the background.
- Then launch Netscape Navigator and begin surfing!
Windows95 Users Take Note: You must use the 16-bit version of Netscape Navigator (or MSIE) with AOL. There is a 32-bit version available but it is not currently compatible with America Online. (see note above)
Windows 3.x users: There is no alternative except to use the 16 bit browser versions of Netscape Navigator ver 3.x or MSIE ver 3.x.
A NOTE ABOUT THE FILE - WINSOCK.DLL
This file, program, or Dynamic Link Library is (one of) the applications which make it possible for us to connect to the Internet / World Wide Web. It is the file which contains the instructions necessary for our computers to "speak" to the internet in an IP (Internet Protocol) language and create and maintain a "socket connection" to the Internet. In this age of bundled software being delivered with our new computers you will, most likely, have many versions of this file spread out in many locations or folders throughout your hard drive. Some will be duplicates, some will be different "branded" variants. The AOL version of this "winsock.dll" is only one of the variants you will discover if you choose to use the "find - files or folders" application to search your drives. It is written specifically to support AOL's methods and procedures and can not be used as the "winsock.dll" file in support of other methods of internet access, i.e. your friendly local ISP - Internet Service Provider. They will either have their own version of this file or perhaps use the "native" version shipped with Windows 3.x or Windows95.
I have been a "heavy" PC user since 1983 when we received our first PC at work - (An IBM PC, 8086 processer @ 4.77mHz, dual 360Kb diskette drives, NO hard drive, "expanded" from 64Mb of ram to a "full complement of 640Mb of RAM), and a mainframe user for about 8 years prior to that. As such, I've been "fortunate" to witness the tremendous growth in the PC industry, the ever expanding numbers of applications available, and the almost exponential increases in PC speed, program sizes, and need for increased storage space.
Along the way during these years I have personally bought 3 "generations" of computers, an IBM PC-XT (firstname.lastname@example.orgHz w/ 10MB Hard drive), a Tandy Sensation (486@25Mhz w/ 260Mb Hard Drive), and my current IBM Aptiva (586@166mHz w/2Gb Hard Drive). Modems installed in these machines have ranged from 300, 2600, to 28,800 baud, and I have been over the years a user of all of the US - Big Three on-line Services, Compuserv, Prodigy, and America On Line. Each on-line service has served it purpose, and each continues to serve their "niche" markets, and have recognized the importance of providing their customers access to the world "beyond their internal content" - THE INTERNET / WORLD WIDE WEB. Unfortunately they all seem to have an "inertia" or big corporation mass and mentallity associated with their efforts which prevent them from reacting to their RAPIDLY CHANGING MARKET and customer needs, along with perhaps some nefarious marketing stratagy which make them think they can market customer demographics and/or email addresses. This is the reason I cancelled my last on-line service (AOL) and went with an ISP, and why I offer this link for your amusement (and consideration).