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Prodigy keeps toe in proprietary water

Even after it moves to the Web, Prodigy will maintain a proprietary version.

Prodigy is gearing up to relaunch its service on the Web as early as September, but the company will not completely abandon its proprietary roots and will continue to offer a "classic" version of its online service, CNET has learned.

Although Prodigy is still in the process of finalizing names for its services, the company is considering calling the Internet version either Prodigy Internet or Prodigy World, according to internal information obtained by CNET. The company is expected to brand the proprietary version of the service "Prodigy Classic."

The company has already registered the Prodigyworld.com and Prodigyworld.net domain names, but not Prodigyinternet.com, according to records from InterNIC, the association that registers all Internet domain names.

Like two of its competitors--CompuServe and Microsoft Network--Prodigy has been scrambling to recast itself as an Internet online service by re-creating its content and features using Internet standards such as HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). Both CompuServe and MSN are currently testing Microsoft server software, code-named Normandy, that will allow them to make the leap to the Net, perhaps as early as October, Microsoft officials said.

Prodigy has said publicly that its Internet service will launch in the fall, although a spokeswoman declined to be more specific. Already, though, Prodigy has launched several Web sites, including Chat Soup and Stim.

The company will give users access to its Net service through a suite of client software, code-named Wildfire, that includes a Web browser, email, chat, and other applications, each of which can be mixed and matched with software from other vendors.

For the original version of its service, the company will distribute its Net software partly through PC hardware vendors such as Packard Bell as it has done with its proprietary client software in the past.

Related stories:
Microsoft readies Normandy invasion
CompuServe makes the Web new home
Prodigy building empire on Web
Prodigy gets new owners
MS ponders fees for MSN Web site
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