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AOL refreshes browser

America Online is preparing an updated version of its client software for its proprietary online service that features improvements to its Web-browsing capabilities.

America Online is preparing an updated version of its client software for its proprietary online service that features improvements to its Web-browsing capabilities.

Initially, only Windows 3.1 users will be able to enjoy the improvements in version 3.0 of the AOL browser, which adds support for SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption, HTML 3.0 extensions, rich text format, frames, and tables. The Windows 3.1 version is set to enter beta testing soon, with the final version due this spring.

Macintosh users will have to wait until summer for their version 3.0. The company is also planning a Windows 95 release but hasn't set a date.

AOL officials would not comment on speculation that its client software will come bundled with the Netscape Navigator browser, which dominates nearly 70 percent of the market, according to some estimates.

But even if AOL doesn't sign a deal, Windows users can already replace the AOL Web browser with Navigator or another browser downloaded from the Internet. Mac users, however, are for the time being limited to the AOL browser.