Overhauled Yahoo email makes it debut

An overhauled version of Yahoo! Mail was rolled out late Tuesday as the pioneering Internet firm sought to better integrate trends such as social networking.

A beta, or test, version of Yahoo! Mail has been streamlined for speed and designed to let people easily send or receive Facebook updates or Twitter messages directly from their inboxes.

"We re-architected the product from the ground up," said Yahoo! vice president of product management communications Kakul Srivastava. "This is a major launch for us."

Along with being built to be "blindingly fast," Yahoo! Mail pages were re-designed to reduce clutter and put "what is most important to you front and center," she added.

For example, messages from people listed among a person's contacts are given priority and raised to the tops of inboxes.

Search tools were improved to make it easier to find pictures, videos or other information in email inboxes that provide unlimited storage space.

The email service was engineered to recognize Internet links to videos or photos, then automatically display thumbnail previews of images.

Video from links to trusted venues such as YouTube can be played in Yahoo! Mail.

A "What's New" tab in Yahoo! Mail lets users see or send Facebook updates or Twitter "tweets." Yahoo! would not discuss any financial terms associated with the collaborations.

"We understand people want to communicate through different types of mechanisms and we want to integrate that into Yahoo! Mail," Srivastava said.

"People can communicate through SMS, microblogging, social networks."

Yahoo! "doubled down" on spam fighting technology to filter out junk email. The email service was also better tailored to mobile devices in a nod to the booming popularity of smartphones and tablet computers.

Yahoo! Mail reports have 273 million monthly users globally, and claims its ranks of users in the United States are double those of Google's Gmail and Microsoft's Hotmail.

People can opt into the beta version of Yahoo! Mail at features.mail.yahoo.com, with feedback used to craft a final version that will become standard for all users.

The more social email service was among projects highlighted at a "Product Runway" at Yahoo!'s campus in Sunnyvale, California, in September.

The faded Internet search star has been redefining itself after forming an alliance with Microsoft to have Bing handle online queries at Yahoo! web pages.

"You are going to see some changes from us," Yahoo! chief product officer Blake Irving promised at the 'Product Runway' event.

Irving joined Yahoo! a hundred days earlier as part of change brought about by chief executive Carol Bartz, who replaced company co-founder Jerry Yang as head of what was a floundering Internet search pioneer being lost in Google's growing shadow.

Yahoo! said it was changing its style to be more "iterative," upgrading and evolving Web pages, tools and offerings routinely and often.

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