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Number-Two CompuServe Tries Harder

CompuServe is making an aggressive bid to ensure that when Christmas rolls around, there are more new accounts under its tree than under America Online's.

CompuServe started out this year as the nation's top-ranked online service but has since fallen behind AOL in its number of subscribers. How far behind depends on who's doing the counting; various reports say the difference is anywhere from 1 million to 1.7 million members.

But CompuServe isn't giving up so easily. Determined to regain the number-one slot, the company has added new services and taken on a minority interest in New York-based Net entertainment magazine Entertainment Drive.

The new services include American Business Information's BIZ*LIST, a database of 11 million U.S. and Canadian businesses; BulletProof Corporation's The Edge, a stock trading and paging alert system for Windows 3.1 and Windows 95; and CompuServe's own virtual world called WorldsAway.

The WorldsAway debut features a tour of Santa's North Pole digs that allows users to create their own environments and avatars. Starting December 12, CompuServe subscribers can chat with Santa and his elves, decorate a Christmas tree, and participate in other holiday-themed activities.