Yahoo Unleashes Major Changes to Search, Mail, Messenger Applications

Yahoo product managers unveiled sweeping changes to the Web services giant's search, Web mail and instant messaging applications in an attempt to make them more personal for users. Yahoo is gunning for Internet giants Google and Microsoft, as well as challengers Facebook and Twitter, with the upgrades. These improvements feature Yahoo Search integration with the Yahoo home page, integration with third-party applications for Yahoo Mail and video chat for Yahoo Messenger.

Yahoo demonstrated changes to its new search engine and new versions of Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger, then endured skepticism from journalists and bloggers confounded about how the search plans will be realized should Microsoft's Bing begin to power Yahoo Search in 2010.

During an event at the company's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters Aug. 24, Yahoo product executives ran through demos of enhancements to Yahoo's Search, Mail and Messenger products, all of which are being geared to bring the hundreds of millions of users of Yahoo's Web services a more personalized experience on the Internet.

The changes are part of Yahoo's turnaround plan to better compete with Internet incumbents Google, Microsoft and new challengers such as Facebook and Twitter. All of the companies are aggressively competing for online advertising dollars centered around search, social software and other Web applications.

As reported by eWEEK earlier today, Larry Cornett, vice president of search products and design, showed how the new search results page has been integrated with and matches the redesign of the Yahoo home page, including a three-column presentation that puts Yahoo Search more on par with Microsoft Bing.

A new universal header will extend Yahoo's Search Assist feature to the search box on every Yahoo page in the United States. The header will include links to the Yahoo home page and My Yahoo customized home page, as well as Yahoo Finance, News, Sports and Yahoo Mail. See screenshots of the new Yahoo Search app on Google Watch here.

Search applications, such as the Yahoo Search Pad annotation tool, SafeSearch and SecureSearch, will live on the left. Search results will appear in the middle, with ads in the right-hand rail. Yahoo Search also will include filters for refining search results, including the ability to search related concepts on Wikipedia, display only results from popular Yahoo and third-party sites, and narrow results by people, videos and discussion forums.

"With one click, you will be able to see all the results from Wikipedia by interacting with the site in that module," Cornett said.

People search will be a big part of the new Yahoo Search experience, Cornett said. That is why Yahoo Search will now help users find people on Facebook and Twitter.

Not all Yahoo users will see the new search design today; the test is available in a randomized bucket test to millions of users worldwide.