America Online on Thursday announced plans to expand its online service on to the Web, similar to offerings now available to users of the Microsoft Network. AOL's Web plans include AOL Netmail, which allows its users to get and send mail from a Web site, and AOL Instant Messenger, which lets AOL users send live messages to others over the Web. AOL separately announced an agreement with Qualcomm, makers of the Eudora email program, to make its Instant Messenger feature available to Eudora users as well. Over 18 million people are currently using Eudora software.

America Online is currently beta testing the 4.0 version of its client software, which is phasing in new Web features. AOL 4.0 will be available for general download to AOL members starting this month. Sometime in 1998, the company will release a final CD-ROM version as well.

"We are rolling it out slowly to make sure members have a good experience," said David Gang, a senior VP at AOL, noting that the rollout will depend largely on system and modem availability. AOL has been heavily criticized in the past for rolling out new features only to have large quantities of its members be unable to access the service