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Chapter 50. Getting Online > Plenty of Other Choices

Plenty of Other Choices

Although AOL dominates the consumer marketplace, it's hardly the only game in town. There are plenty of other ISPs. Whether you use a national provider such as EarthLink, Microsoft Network, or AT&T WorldNet or a small, regional company (perhaps your local phone company), once you're connected you have access to all the public resources of the Internet. There was a time when AOL and similar online services such as Prodigy and CompuServe were much easier to use than plain ISPs, but that's no longer necessarily the case.

When you use an ISP, you do give up that friendly AOL interface, but many users find that they prefer the interface you get with a standard ISP. Most ISPs expect you to use a browser such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator to access the Net. They also expect you to access your email via a program like Outlook Express (which comes with Windows), Eudora, or Outlook. Some ISPs also encourage their users to access their mail via the web. Personally, I like using Internet Explorer as my interface to the net. I find that it's faster than AOL's interface and I've customized my home page and my bookmarks so that everything is right there for me. I'll explain how to do all that in Chapter 53.


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