1999: Free internet access is a big thing in the Windows world. Many people are currently using free ad-based internet services instead of pricier ones, such AOL and Erols.
Free internet services was a relatively unfilled niche in the Mac computing world, except for a few companies that offered Mac versions of their software. However, all of these programs were unreliable, buggy, and always painfully slow.
But now this niche is finally filled by a fast, reliable, and working service. Recently, Freei.Net released a version of its internet access software for the Mac.*
I’m always interested in trying new things, so as soon as I saw this software was ready to be downloaded, I quickly did so.
After filling out a long survey, which finally at the last step asks you to setup an account, I was prompted to download the software. The file itself is only about a 2 MB file, so on my iMac, it was a quick download.
After the download I got ready to install it. I was getting ready for this nifty new service to not work correctly, due to the old saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
Now it was time to get to the installation step. I decompressed the file and then double-clicked the resulting installer. I was greeted with a nice little welcome message and was then asked to select a place where I wanted to install my shiny new internet service.
Now, that FreeiNet was installed on my iMac, it was time to get on the net. The installer would help me along with this little step. Once the installation was complete, it asked me if I wanted to set up a new account or if I wished to use my existing account.
Since this was my first time using the software, I would need to create a new account. This is where everything went wrong. Once I clicked this virtual dead-end button, I was sent straight to crash city.
After rebooting several times due to the installers crashing, I figured clicking the “use an existing account” button couldn’t hurt. So I did. After that, it went crash-free to let me select an access number. Then it asked me for a user name and password. I knew that after all of this work, it would come to this – I needed a user name.
Then I realized something: On FreeiNet’s website, you pre-register a username and password. Once I remembered this helpful little tidbit, I was on my way to FreeInternet-dom.
Once I filled out the information, I was greeted to a dialog box that stated that it was connected to its servers. After a few seconds of this, my browser opened up, as did a little ad box, and a program asked me if I wanted to setup a chat program to work with it.
After all of this time, I had finally connected to the first actually reliable free internet service for the Mac. Now Mac users won’t have to suffer paying for internet access. I’ve already referred some of my friends and family members to this new service, but until I can make sure this service won’t follow in the footsteps of the other free internet services, I’ll also be keeping AOL.
Update: Freei.Net closed its doors in October 2000, less than two years after it began. It’s brand name was acquired by NetZero.com.
* Note that Freei.Net requires a PowerPC-based Mac or compatible. It is not compatible with 680×0-based Macs.
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