Life and Style Dear Barry: Open letters have become the way high-flying individuals - and firms - get their message across

It used to be just angry celebrities (and Moses) who wrote open letters. Now, even America's top businesses are taking the president to task, says Clare Dwyer Hogg

Outlook: AOL bear-hug

IF YOU cannot beat them, join them. Even after Freeserve's subscriber base topped the one million mark and the company announced plans to float on the stock market, AOL, the big daddy of American internet service provider, continued to insist stoically that it would not be entering the "free" ISP market and that it would persist in charging for its service, selling the product on superior quality, user friendliness and high levels of technical support.

AOL serves free challenge to rival

THE STRUGGLE to woo British Web surfers entered a new phase yesterday, as the world's biggest Internet access company, AOL, launched a free service to challenge Freeserve, the one-year-old company which is already the country's biggest Internet provider.

Bytes

THE INTERNET Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the non-profit organisation given the task of ensuring competition in the domain name registration business, is in danger of ceasing to function by next month.

Web Design: Killing the messengers

THE BATTLE lines are being drawn, and the rumbling of siege guns can be heard in the distance. The first skirmish of what may be the first great cyber-war is being fought. Microsoft and America Online (AOL) are coming into direct confrontation, fighting over the instant messaging market, which could grow as large as e-mail over the next few years.

The Latest News From The Motley Fool: Hooked on the internet

The Motley Fool started as an irreverent investment newsletter and has grown to become one of the most popular personal finance and investment websites. Anyone who follows its philosophy is called a 'Foolish investor'.

Coming soon: free gadget to access Net

GENTLEMEN, START your Internet gadgets. The race is on to supply the mass market with the cheapest possible device for accessing the Net - including one which will be given free to people who sign up with a particular Internet service.

Network: Casting the Net wide

AOL introduced the Internet to millions of users. But now it has to diversify.

Bytes

TESTIMONY IN the US government's anti-trust trial against Microsoft concluded in Washington last week. Microsoft's final witness, Richard Schmalensee, dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management and an expert economic witness for the defence, argued that the state of competition in the computer industry was such that Microsoft was not a monopolist. He cited the deal between AOL and 3Com to allow Internet access via palm-held devices that ran no Microsoft software as evidence - and said that it did not use its dominance to gain unfair advantage for its other products, specifically its Web-browsing software.

AOL takes aim at Microsoft in `free-PC' talks

AMERICA ONLINE, the world's largest Internet access company, is rumoured to be on the verge of striking a deal that could lead to PCs being given away to Internet users.

Freeserve to sell float shares online

THE 1.25M subscribers to Freeserve, Dixons' Internet service provider, will be able to register online for the shares when it is floated within the next few weeks. It is thought to be the first time that subscribers have been able to register for a flotation issue on the Internet in Britain.

Network: Bytes

COMPAQ SAID last week that continuing slow sales throughout the year will result in a second-quarter loss of up to 15 cents per share, instead of an expected gain of 20 cents. It announced plans to restructure, which will include the formation of new business groups, unspecified redundancies and a restructuring charge of up to $2bn.

Host of copycats clouds Dixons' Freeserve float

News Analysis: The free Internet service could be worth anything from pounds 500m to pounds 2bn. The range hints at the uncertainties facing the fast- changing online sector

Network: Now chat is where it's at

Many people are eschewing e-mail for a quicker form of communication. By Matthew Burgess

Network: It's cheaper by the minute

Free phone access would be great for Net users but risky for ISPs. By Stephen Pritchard
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