Yahoo! takes revamped free mail service out of beta

Yahoo! is peeling off the beta label from the latest version of its Yahoo! Mail service and will be making the new features available to its 284 million users in the coming weeks.

Yahoo! is pushing to differentiate its email offering from rivals such as Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail, and Google's Gmail by offering enhanced social networking features, online media content storage and improved spam protection.

"Yahoo!'s vision for online communications brings together all the tools that people use to connect — email, chat, SMS, and social updates — and makes it easier for them to share content and engage in conversations with the people that matter most to them," said Blake Irving, chief product officer, Yahoo!.

With the latest version of Yahoo! Mail users can instantly reply to messages from their Facebook friends, view photo slide shows from within their inboxes and share instant updates on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Zynga from the new Updates tab.

Taking inspiration from Google's Gmail Priority Inbox, Yahoo! now prioritizes messages and contacts that are the most important to you.

In March Microsoft updated its Active View, a feature that automatically displays photos, videos and documents within Hotmail to include invitations, deals and ratings from partners such as LinkedIn, Posterous, LivingSocial and Netflix.

Last week Google extended its partnership with AOL, making it possible to chat with AOL contacts in Gmail, iGoogle and Google talk on Android phones.

Yahoo! Mail is one of the largest email brands in the world alongside Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail, and Google's Gmail.

For an overview of Yahoo! Mail's features or to upgrade your mail account to the new version visit http://overview.mail.yahoo.com/.

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