Yahoo Readies Overhaul Of Web Mail

Jun 28, 2005 (02:06 PM EDT)

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Yahoo Inc. on Tuesday said it plans to begin testing this summer the biggest overhaul ever of its web-mail service, changing the interface so it behaves more like a desktop-client application, such as Microsoft Outlook.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., portal said the beta version of Yahoo Mail would include features like drag and drop email organization and message preview, but still operate out of a web browser. The new version would support Mozilla Foundation's Firefox, Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer and other browsers.

The new Yahoo Mail incorporates technology from web-mail provider Oddpost, which was acquired by Yahoo in July 2004. The upgrade is expected to deliver the "most significant overhaul of the Yahoo Mail interface and user experience since its launch in 1997."

The beta version would be available to a limited group of Yahoo Mail users over the "upcoming weeks." No date was given for general availability.

The new version is expected to be faster than the older model. The enhanced speed and features are the result of the use of several new web technologies, including dynamic HTML, extensible markup language (XML) and a web services standard called SOAP, a message-based protocol for accessing services over the web.

Other new features planned include search of email headers, message body and attachments. The service is also expected to be able to view multiple emails at the same time in separate windows, and have address auto-complete, right-click menus, standard keyboard shortcuts and spam and virus protection.