Yahoo said it plans to introduce a major overhaul of its Internet home page, as the company strives to make itself more relevant to Web surfers and create new ways to sell advertising.
The new homepage blends Yahoo's collection of online content and products with popular social networking services like Facebook and Twitter, representing what a Yahoo official called the most "radical" make-over of the site since its inception more than a decade ago.
"It's a sea change in the way we think about products, the way we think about users, and the way we think about our business," Yahoo Senior Vice President of Integrated Consumer Experience Tapan Bhat said in a conference call with reporters ahead of the announcement.
The new homepage comes as negotiations between Yahoo and Microsoft Corp on a search and advertising partnership are regaining momentum.
Yahoo, which is due to report its second-quarter financial results on Tuesday, is facing increasing competition from Microsoft, following the release of Microsoft's Bing Internet search engine in June.
According to comScore, Yahoo's share of the U.S. search market decreased to 19.6 percent in June from 20.1 percent the month before, while Microsoft's search share increased from 8 percent to 8.4 percent.
Yahoo's homepage, however, is one of the most visited pages on the Web, and among the most valuable of Yahoo assets. The homepage had more than 100 U.S. million unique visitors a month in June, according to comScore, and 330 million worldwide in May.
The new Yahoo homepage is less cluttered than the existing version, showcasing fewer of Yahoo's products and services. A column that runs down the lefthand of the Web page allows users to swap-in various "apps" that preview content from third-party websites like USA Today and Facebook, as well as Yahoo sites, when a user rolls a cursor over them.
Yahoo will sell display ads that run alongside the app previews.
Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz had previously said that the new homepage was set to go live in Autumn.
According to Yahoo's Bhat, the new homepage will be available in the U.S. on Tuesday, and in several other countries in the coming weeks, as a beta product that users can opt-in to receive. The new homepage will become the standard option for all visitors to Yahoo sometime in the Autumn, he said.