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Yahoo Mail Beta Gets Wide Distribution

The Ajax-based client sports a similar look and feel to Microsoft Outlook and integrates with Yahoo's mapping, weather, and calendar services.

Yahoo on Thursday integrated more features into its new Web mail client, as the portal made the beta service widely available in the United States and more than a dozen other countries.

Yahoo Mail, which sports a look and feel similar to Microsoft's popular Outlook desktop software, includes integration with the portal's mapping, weather and calendar services. By moving a cursor over an address typed into a scheduled appointment, for example, a person would see a balloon that offers a roadmap of the location and the weather forecast for the day.

The previous version of the Web mail client had been available to only a limited number of U.S. users. While adding new features to the more widely available upgrade, Yahoo has kept popular functionality such as keyboard shortcuts, and the ability to drag and drop messages to folders and to search messages and attachments.

While Yahoo Mail may work for people willing to add contacts and other information to a new email client, longtime users of Outlook and other desktop software may be disappointed to know they can't transfer data. Yahoo, however, is working with a company called Esaya Inc. to try to make that possible in the future, Ethan Diamond, director of product management for Yahoo, said.

Yahoo is focused on optimizing the ad-supported Web mail for broadband users, Diamond said. A version for dial-up users will be available when the service is taken out of beta. A date has not been set.

Yahoo Mail is built with Ajax, an advancement in JavaScript that provide desktop software functionality and performance to browser-based applications. It also, incorporates technology from Oddpost, a company Yahoo acquired in July 2004.

Yahoo launched the Web mail upgrade in beta last year on a limited basis in the United States. It is now available in the United States, Australia/New Zealand, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, India, Italy, The Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Canada and Korea.

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