PC Expo – WordPerfect mag comes to Compuserve, AOL

Jacqueline Emigh

PC Expo – WordPerfect Mag Comes To Compuserve, AOL 07/05/94 NEW YORK, NEW YORK, U.S.A., 1994 JUL 5 (NB) — In a press conference at PC Expo that featured speakers from WordPerfect, Compuserve, America Online (AOL), and Ziff-Davis, WordPerfect unveiled a new electronic “magazine companion” called “On-Line Access from WordPerfect (WP) Magazines.”

The new electronic publication will be available on Compuserve and AOL starting August 1, and on the Ziff-Davis Interactive (ZDI) Interchange service later this year, officials said at the press event, attended by Newsbytes in New York City.

WordPerfect is also conducting talks with Genie and Prodigy, and expects to announce the availability of On-Line Access on these two services soon, noted Bob Wright, editor/publisher of the magazine companion. Eventually, WordPerfect Magazines “will probably have a presence on the Internet,” Wright added.

Jeff Hadfield, editor-in-chief of WP for Windows Magazine, explained that, each month, On-Line Access will offer one feature article from the current edition of WP Magazine/WP for Windows Magazine, complete with macros, plus a “special section” with information about the latest new products from WordPerfect.

Other services will include full indexes to past On-Line Access articles and macros, the chance to exchange electronic mail with WP Magazine editors and other readers, and special online conferences with the editors and other industry leaders, Hadfield said.

Wright reported that WP’s online offerings will be available as ASCII text files, and also as downloadable text/graphics files in RTF (Rich Text Format).

“Compuserve is very excited about WordPerfect’s OnLine Access,” said CompuServe’s Jim Hogan. Compuserve continues to be on the lookout for new services that will appeal to subscribers, according to Hogan. The Compuserve/OnLine Access deal reaffirms a partnership first fostered with the WordPerfect Forum on Compuserve, he said.

WordPerfect’s upcoming online conferences are especially attractive to Compuserve, he suggested, since they help fill “the need to communicate with consumers in real-time.” The future availability of WordPerfect’s Envoy was another drawing card for Compuserve, he added.

From America Online’s perspective, On-Line Access will add new interactive services, as well as a “novel approach” to technical support, said AOL’s Lynn Cameron. “A static magazine is a nice thing to have, but to be able to open it up and interact with it blazes new frontiers,” she maintained. “We see this as the direction publishers are taking, anyway.”

The index to On-Line Access will supply a form of technical self- help, by allowing users to “find answers” in back issues, she said. But On-Line Access will also bring AOL “a step beyond traditional tech support” by providing “a way for members to help each other out.”

For ZDI, the On-Line Access deal represents the continuation of “a very close relationship” between Ziff-Davis and WordPerfect, said Ziff’s Lee Phillips.

ZDI’s Interchange already contains a “special interest computing area” with product and industry news, information on purchasing and using PCs, a large library of downloadable software, and sections that support interests like multimedia, networking, and SOHO (small office/home office) computing, according to Phillips.

This area of Interchange contains “highlights pages” that are often tied to online content from Ziff publications, including PC Week, PC Magazine, MacWeek, MacUser, PC Magazine, Computer Shopper, Windows Sources, and Computer Gaming World. The service also incorporates content from other publications, such as InfoWorld, that are produced by other publishers.

Phillips told the journalists at PC Expo that ZDI views WordPerfect’s On-Line Access as another “enhanced publication” for the use of Interchange customers.

Wright’s comments as to the probable future presence of On-Line Access on the Internet came in response to a question raised in a question and answer session at the close of the press conference.

Right now, most services on the Internet are still “non- commercial,” although commercial services are starting to become available there, the editor/publisher said. Ultimately, On-Line Access will probably have its own FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server on the Internet. By then, more end users will be familiar with the Internet at a level beyond basic electronic mail, he indicated.

Another reporter wanted to know why WP Magazine decided to distribute On-Line Access over existing services such as Compuserve, AOL, and ZDI instead of launching its own online service.

Wright responded that, although starting an online service “has certainly been done by other publishers,” WordPerfect officials thought it made more marketing sense to concentrate on content only and allow the existing online services to handle distribution.

“Otherwise, what would we tell an America Online subscriber who wanted to use On-Line Access?” Wright asked hypothetically. “That unless you purchase our service, too, you’re out of luck?”

WP Magazine’s decision not to start a separate online service was based in part on surveys conducted to show which online services are subscribed to by the On-Line Access target market, he said. The decision was reached prior to the announcement of Novell’s purchase of WordPerfect, he added.

A third journalist asked representatives of the online services how they planned to provide a broad enough network “pipeline” for electronic transmission of graphics files.

Cameron replied that the RTF files to be downloadable from On-Line Access will be highly compressed. But AOL is already offering 9600 bits-per-second (bps) access, and over the next month will add support for TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), she noted.

Compuserve added 14.4 megabits-per-second (Mbps) access last year, is currently testing 28.8 Mbps service, and is also looking at ISDN (integrated services digital network), expanded Internet connectivity, and cable access, Hogan said.

All online services, though, are taking into account what kinds of access can be employed by users in a “real world” financial and technical sense, he suggested.

Elaborated Phillips: “The common commercial user does not have access to ISDN, for example. So we’re faced with those kinds of challenges.”

In interviews with Newsbytes at the end of the press conference, WP Magazine officials supplied additional details about the index to On-Line Access.

Hadfield told Newsbytes that the index will be divided into three sections: “current,” for the current edition of the magazine companion and related macros; “recent,” a holding area for editions of the previous six months; and “archived,” for issues more than six months old.

Wright referred to the index as the “electronic binder,” and said that it will be introduced in two phases. At the time of service start-up, he reported, the binder will “be able to tell you whether it has the information you want – and if not, to tell you where you can find it.”

In the second phase, the binder will be enhanced with an “active agent,” he added. “If it doesn’t have the information, it will actually be able to go and get it.”

To obtain more information on On-Line Access via electronic mail, send an Internet message to emag@wordpect.com with the subject line reading “help online.”

(Jacqueline Emigh/19940702/Reader Contacts: Bob Wright, WordPerfect On-Line Access, 801-227-3421; or at Internet address, emag@wordperfect.com; Compuserve, 614-457-8650; AOL, 703-448- 8700; Bruce Thurlby, ZDI, 617-252-427; Chris Gwynn, ZDI, 617-252- 5567; Pat O’Brien, ZDI, 617-252-5176; Press Contacts: Shannon M. Harmon, WordPerfect Magazines, 801-227-3447; Renee Blodgett, Brodeur & Partners for WordPerfect Magazines, 617-894-0003; Jane E. Torbica, Compuserve, 614-538-3347; Jean Villanueva, AOL, 703-448-8700; Lisa Landa, ZDI, 617-252-5211; Janice Brown, Janice Brown and Associates Inc. for ZDI, 617-332-8066)

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