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Yahoo homepage gets new features

Yahoo began rolling out a promised major redesign of its homepage as the struggling Internet pioneer worked to revitalise its image and incorporate hot new online trends.

The debut of the promised overhaul came several months ahead of schedule and as speculation grew of renewed talks of an online search deal between Yahoo and global technology giant Microsoft.

The new Yahoo homepage features a customisable toolbar on the left of the page, which allows users to connect with their favorite outside applications including hot online services such as Facebook and MySpace.

“Today’s launch represents the most significant change to the Yahoo homepage since the company’s inception,” Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo said in a release.

“This launch is a major milestone in the Yahoo Open Strategy, which seeks to mesh the Yahoo experience with the best online content and services.”

Yahoo began its Open Strategy early last year in a move that built on a Facebook-led trend to open once walled operating platforms to hip, fun or useful applications made by outside developers or other Internet services.

Yahoo lets homepage users choose from 65 applications to customise “My Favorites” boxes. Favorites can include email services provided by Yahoo rivals Google and America Online as well as links to social-networking websites Facebook and MySpace.

Facebook and MySpace users are able to share “status” updates with friends directly from Yahoo homepages. Yahoo said it is providing simple tools for users to make their own homepage applications linking to preferred Web addresses.

Portions of the homepage provide glimpses at trends, hot search topics, and “fun facts” gathered from the Internet. The homepage also lets people tailor “hyper-local news” feeds focused on topics that most interest them.

Yahoo said that it is working on synchronising homepages on people’s personal computers with those on smartphones for “a more seamless PC to mobi
le integration.”

The new Yahoo homepage is available in the United States at and will be rolled out in France, India, and Britain in the coming week.

The Yahoo homepage had more than 113 million US users as of June, rising 17.2 per cent in the course of the preceding year, according to comScore statistics cited by the Internet firm.

Yahoo reportedly has more that 570 million users worldwide, reaching nearly 51 per cent of the Internet-using population. Company executives hope the early launch will give the firm a much needed shot in the arm. Yahoo was expected to release its second quarter earnings on Tuesday, with traders predicting a dip in earnings.

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