Yahoo Plans Web Mail Service Face-Lift

BOSTON--Yahoo plans on giving its free Web mail service a face-lift, the company has announced. The updated Yahoo Mail, a beta version of which will soon be available to a limited number of users, will function like a desktop client application.

Yahoo's update, a response to pressure from the competitive Web mail industry, will allow users to drag and drop messages into separate folders, preview e-mail messages, and view multiple e-mail messages at once, among other features. Also, e-mail caching will make response time in the new version faster than in previous ones, Yahoo said in a press release.

The overhauled Web mail service incorporates technology from Oddpost, a Web mail vendor that Yahoo acquired nearly a year ago in order to aid its technological development in the free Web mail market.

Keeping Up

The major competitors that Yahoo must keep up with in the Web mail arena are Google's Gmail, Microsoft's Hotmail, and America Online's new free Web mail service, which is integrated with the company's AIM instant messenger service. Like Yahoo's beta service, AOL's Web mail service features drag-and-drop capabilities and antivirus technology.

Other features of the new Yahoo Mail include right-click menus and address auto-complete capabilities. As of now, the beta version is compatible with Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers, though support for other browsers is being developed.

Yahoo plans to generate revenue from this service through banner ads, one of which will appear in the e-mail preview window until the user clicks on an e-mail.

But before the final product is unveiled, Yahoo will invite a limited number of Yahoo Mail users to test the beta version. Once testing is finished and the responses are taken into account, the final version will be released to the public, a Yahoo spokesperson said.

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