Yahoo! on Monday vowed to fight Microsoft on a new frontier, saying that having the software giant power its online searches won't stop it from battling for the devotion of Web surfers.
Yahoo! executives declared that the pioneering Internet search firm's campaign to wrest market share from Microsoft and Google isn't ending, it is only shifting fronts.
Yahoo!'s deal with Microsoft, if cleared by regulators, will result in the California firm using Microsoft's freshly launched Bing search engine to mine the Internet for results to queries at Yahoo! pages.
Yahoo! said it is refining its pages to present search results in smarter, more intuitive ways that will trump what Microsoft presents with Bing alone.
"The back-end of search is a megawatt war, and that is what we are getting out of," said Prabhakar Raghaven, Yahoo! labs and search strategy senior vice president.
"We believe the battle has move beyond the back end; we want to fight the battle on the other end."
Yahoo! stressed its commitment to search while unveiling improvements to its globally popular free Web-based email and instant messaging services to reporters at its headquarters in Sunnyvale, California.
Yahoo! also provided a glimpse at a new search page design it plans to roll out later this year.
"We are committed to continuing to invest in search," said Yahoo! vice president of search products and design Larry Cornett.
"This design is going to transform the way you use the Web; make it easier and faster for you to find the things that matter most to you."
New search design features include using previous queries to automatically figure out what people are seeking and narrowing results so relevant videos or Web pages are presented instead of simply links to Websites.
Searching people's names on the Yahoo! pages being tested triggers results including their pages at social-networking websites such as Facebook or microblogging sensation Twitter.
"Searching for people has been Google's domain; we are going to take that away from them," Cornett said. "When we launch this, you are going to come to Yahoo! to search for people. This is a very different search experience."
Google is the overwhelming leader in a Web search and advertising market which the research firm Forrester estimates will grow by 15 percent a year to more than 30 billion dollars in 2014 in the United States alone.
With their tie-up announced in July, Microsoft and Yahoo! are hoping to steal market share -- and advertising dollars -- from Google.
Under the terms of the agreement, Yahoo! will use the Bing search engine and handle Web ad sales.
"Basically, Microsoft bought their back-end," said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley.
"Now, Yahoo! has all this money free and they are going to put it in the front-end to differentiate themselves from Google and Microsoft. It is an interesting strategy."
Yahoo! is in a position to springboard off improvements made to Bing without having to share its innovations with Microsoft, according to the analyst.
"It almost always insures that Yahoo! technology will be better," Enderle said.
Yahoo! also doesn't have to share the mountains of search data it uses to refine search results.
Yahoo! on Monday debuted enhancements to its free Web-based email, the most popular service of its kind with a reported 300 million users worldwide.
Yahoo! Mail is adding social-networking-style status updates and making it simple to find, edit, and send pictures buried in inboxes.
The size limit for files attached to emails was more than doubled to 25 megabytes.
Yahoo! is also launching new Mail software for smart phones, starting with Apple's wildly popular iPhones.
"Yahoo!'s goal is to be the center of people's lives online," said Tapan Bhat, senior vice president of integrated consumer experiences at Yahoo!.
"We don't believe social is a destination; we think it is a fabric woven into everything we do."
(c) 2009 AFP
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