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Yahoo upgrades e-mail

August 27, 2007|From the Associated Press

san francisco --Yahoo Inc. will introduce features today for its popular Web-based e-mail program, including software that allows computer users to type text messages on a keyboard and send them directly to someone's cellphone.

The most obvious beneficiaries will be parents, who will be able to use their keyboards to type messages sent to their children's cellphones and avoid thumb-twisting typing on a dial pad, Yahoo Vice President John Kremer said.

"We're giving you the right way to connect at the right time with the right person," said Kremer, whose two preteen sons vastly prefer text and instant messages to e-mail.

The enhancements make it easier to send e-mail, instant messages or text messages from a single website -- no need to launch or toggle between separate applications or devices. The features will be available to users in the U.S., Canada, India and the Philippines.

The changes come amid fierce competition among providers of free, Web-based e-mail. Yahoo and Microsoft Corp.'s Hotmail have long dominated the niche, but Google Inc.'s Gmail has grown quickly since its introduction in April 2004.

In March, Yahoo announced that it would provide unlimited storage space, and this month Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft said Hotmail would increase free storage from 2 to 5 gigabytes. Time Warner Inc.'s AOL, the fourth-largest e-mail provider, began offering unlimited storage last summer. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google provides nearly 3 gigabytes.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo bills the changes as the most significant overhaul of Yahoo Mail since its launch in 1997. The new version replaces a 1-year-old beta program and adds features including text messaging, a more comprehensive e-mail search engine and a database of contacts that is easier to read and edit.

Users who don't want the upgrades -- or whose computers are too slow to handle them -- can opt to remain with the current version, which Yahoo will call "Classic."

The new version allows users to click on a contact and then select whether to send that person an e-mail, instant message or text message.

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