Information for AOL Members


PLEASE NOTE: As of July, 1998, America Online is offering the latest version of its software (4.0) for free download (KEYWORD: upgrade). AOL 4.0 includes a revised browser which is "Netscape-compatible," and which for some users may render the information below unnecessary. Be advised, however, that AOL's "new" browser is still vastly inferior in some respects to the Netscape Navigator browser.

Digital Imagery uses HTML encoding which is compatible with Netscape 2.2 and higher. This encoding utilizes many features such as centering; text wrapping; spacing options; animated graphics; background colors and graphics; various font sizes, faces and colors; tables and table background colors; and browser supported forms for submitting data, etc., etc.

The new AOL browser now supports these features, but formatting and color palette discrepancies are still present. Most distressing is that the AOL version 4.0 browser recognizes only half of the font sizes standardized in HTML and mis-interprets many opening and closing font tags. For those whose computers use a 256-color setting, the color palette discrepancies are even worse in AOL version 4.0 than they were in version 3.0.

Even though we are aware that over 80% of World-Wide Web accessors use Netscape-compatible browsers, we do not want to disregard our AOL friends without offering some help. AOL has made its own utilities available which can be utilized to launch Netscape even from inside of AOL. The frequently asked questions (FAQ) below are pasted directly from AOL at (keyword WINSOCK) where you can also download the AOL-customized WINSOCK.DLL file and get online assistance in using this utility file.


Turn your printer on and, at the top of your screen, select "FILE" and then "PRINT" so you can have a printed copy of this information before downloading the Netscape browser. This will definitely be worth your while - you will be able to read these instructions as you carry them out step by step and the improvements in web browsing are almost unbelievable.

If you do not have an empty temporary directory on your hard drive, create one before you begin to carry out the steps below. Give it a name such as "download". Expanding the downloaded Netscape Navigator program will yield dozens of setup files which you will not want mixed up with files in another directory on your computer. Therefore, you should download the Netscape Navigator program file only to this empty directory. Delete all these setup files in this temporary directory after you have installed the Netscape browser and have successfully used it. (Before deleting the setup files, you can save just the single compressed file [n16e304p.exe] in another empty directory if you wish to store it.)

Just to clarify things, here are the steps you should take to use the Netscape browser:

1. In Windows File Manager, select "File/Search" and enter "winsock.dll" to search your system for any winsock.dll files. If the search finds one, rename it to "winsock.old".

2. Log on to AOL and enter key-word "winsock".

3. Download the AOL winsock.dll to your main Windows directory.

4. Go to your AOL Web browser and access the Netscape Products Archive page. Even if you use Windows 95, select "Navigator 3.04 Download: Windows 3.1 - Complete Install" (Click on the highlighted word "Download" in front of "Windows 3.1 - Complete Install". Do NOT click on "Download Strong Encryption".)
Note: Do NOT be tempted to download another version. If you do, instructions on this page will NOT help you. Yes, this means do NOT download Netscape Communicator (version 4.x) if your connection to the Internet is through AOL (see note below on Netscape Navigator 4.06). Do NOT download Navigator Gold. Do NOT download the 32 bit version for Windows 95.
Note: You must select the 16 bit Windows 3.1 version even if you are running Windows 95. The AOL winsock will not work with the 32 bit Netscape for Windows 95.

5. Download the Netscape self-expanding file (which will have a name similar to "n16e304p.exe") to the empty directory which you created on your system.

6. When the download is complete, exit AOL. Close all other programs except your Windows Desktop.


7. In Program Manager, select "File/Run" and browse your system to the directory to which you downloaded the self-expanding file (n16e304p.exe). Select that file, and hit "OK". This will expand the Netscape browser program.

8. Then, once again from Program Manager, select "File/Run" and browse your system to the directory in which you just expanded Netscape. Select "setup.exe", hit "OK", and follow directions.

9. After setup is complete, close all windows and programs and re-start Windows. Log on to AOL as usual, connect as usual, then minimize AOL and open the Netscape browser program. (Be sure you establish an AOL connection before you start running Netscape.) The only two programs you should now be running are AOL and Netscape.

Note on the newest Netscape Communicator 4.06:
Most computers can now run the latest Netscape browser with a connection through AOL. I have advised that AOL users content themselves with the older 3.04 Netscape Navigator because the older version is virtually foolproof. However, if your computer has at least 16 megs of RAM and a graphics card with at least 2 megs of RAM, then you can probably use Netscape Navigator 4.06. (There is a difference between Netscape Navigator 4.06 and Netscape Communicator 4.06: Netscape Communicator includes a suite of Internet applications in addition to the Navigator browser which may complicate the successful running of the Navigator browser by AOL users.) AOL users should download the standalone version of Netscape Navigator 4.06 (click here to download) Review this Netscape page to make sure that this is the page for the Win3.1 standalone version. Then scroll down to Begin Downloading and select either the "Download for Free" or "Buy Now" icon.

Uh... Exactly what is a WINSOCK?

AOL Winsock FAQ (9June96)

** To print this page, go up to the File menu and choose Print **

What is Winsock?

The new version of AOL for Windows lets you run great programs such as Real Audio, Internet Phone, Netscape, and Virtual Places. This powerful and fun software is now available to you without extra charge. The feature that makes it all possible is called "Winsock."

Winsock is nothing more than a small file (WINSOCK.DLL) that lets you run third-party Internet applications such as Netscape and Real Audio over your AOL connection. AOL's version of Winsock is customized to work efficiently with America Online, and it is installed automatically when you install the AOL for Windows software.

NOTE: Versions of Winsock created by software vendors or access providers other than AOL will not work with AOL, nor will AOL's Winsock work with other access providers.

Where do I find applications to use with AOL's Winsock?

You can download Winsock applications from many places on AOL. All applications available directly from AOL have been tested with AOL's Winsock.

* On AOL, from Winsock Central (keyword: Winsock), click on Software Library.

* On AOL, from the Telnet Center (keyword: Telnet), click on Net Clients.

* On the Internet, use Stroud's List, a comprehensive list of Winsock applications, at the following Web site: Many of these Winsock applications have NOT been tested with AOL's Winsock.

* Commercial Winsock applications are available at the vendors' Web sites. For example, to download Real Audio, go to Real Audio's Web site at

How do I use Winsock applications?

With Winsock installed, simply log onto America Online. You will be ready to run a broad range of third-party Internet applications.

Learning to use a third-party application is like learning any program--you must install the program, run it (in this case while logged onto AOL), and learn what the program does and how to get around.

You can use more than one third-party application at the same time. You can also browse the World Wide Web using more than one browser at the same time (for example, AOL's browser and Netscape's).

NOTE: If you exit from AOL or your AOL connection is broken for any reason, you automatically exit from any open Winsock application as well.

Can I use AOL's Winsock through my local Internet provider?

No, AOL's Winsock has been optimized to work with America Online and contains neither the dialer nor the configuration settings you would need to use it through a local provider.

Can I use 32-bit Winsock applications with AOL's Winsock?

Not at the moment. The WINSOCK.DLL file available now works with 16-bit applications only. AOL is working on a 32-bit Winsock and will post information about it when it becomes available.

When does AOL for Windows load AOL's version of Winsock?

At the beginning of an AOL session (when you log onto AOL), the AOL for Windows software checks to see whether there's a Winsock already loaded into memory. If there isn't one, the AOL software loads the AOL version of WINSOCK.DLL from the Winsock folder.

If I'm using Windows 95 and AOL 3.0 for Windows, which version of a Winsock application should I request from a Web site?

Even though you're running Windows 95 (a 32-bit application) as your operating system, the current version of AOL 3.0 for Windows is 16-bit. Therefore, you must download a 16-bit version of the Winsock application you wish to run. Specify either "16-bit" for the application type, or "Win3.1" for your operating system. You will receive the correct (16-bit) version for use over AOL.

What if I have other Winsocks already loaded?

If you have a 32-bit Winsock installed, AOL's Winsock will work properly. If you have another 16-bit Winsock installed, that Winsock may prevent the AOL Winsock from installing, which can prevent applications from running properly. If you intend to use AOL as your only way of accessing the Internet, you may want to delete or rename other WINSOCK.DLL files on your hard drive.

What a winsock is....

In the simplest of terms a WINSOCK (short for Windows Sockets) is nothing more than a converter. Just as a cable tc converter box takes the incoming information, which is in whatever format your cable company chooses to send its signals, and converts it to a standard format that your television can use, a winsock takes the data from the software your computer is using, and converts it into a standard format used for Internet communication. Just as cable companies have many different ways to send their signal, your computer software can have many ways to send its data. The important part is that the winsock changes it to conform to a single standard.

Prior to the Windows Sockets standard if a company wanted to write an Internet application it would have to write a different one for every combination of software that would talk to it. With Windows Sockets, developers can write their programs to accept a single type of data, and it falls on the software makers to write a suitable 'converter'. By doing this you can have a single program, WINSOCK, which must be unique, and the actual Internet applications themselves can have only one version. This made development of net apps much easier, and contributed to the large variety of applications you have the ability to use.

Netscape is essentially World Wide Web browser software. While they have begun to integrate many other features, such as the ability to do mail and news, it is still primarily a WWW application. The Netscape Navigator, thanks to continuing innovation, has captured a large segment of the browser market and is preferred by many over other browsers. You can, having properly configured it, use it through your AOL connection with the AOL winsock installed. (The winsock takes data from AOL in AOL's format, and converts it to the Windows Sockets formats for Netscape to use).

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