New Yahoo app diverts users from Microsoft

In a move that no doubt left Microsoft Corp. executives waving their fists, Yahoo Inc. launched a new download application Tuesday that effectively "Yahoo-izes" users' operating systems, installing Yahoo-branded products and services on user desktops and Web browsers.

The application, dubbed Yahoo Essentials, customizes users' Microsoft Windows operating systems with Yahoo wares in one swift download. The new application comes as a bold strike against rival Microsoft, which is currently busy launching its new operating system and promoting its .Net Internet initiative.

With the download of Yahoo Essentials, the company's instant message (IM) service Yahoo Messenger gets added to users' desktops, and a Yahoo Accessories folder pops up on their Start Menu, linking users to My Yahoo, Yahoo Calendar, Yahoo Briefcase and Yahoo Address Book, the company said in a news release. What's more, Yahoo Games also gets added to the Start Menu.

And for Windows XP users, Yahoo Photos is integrated into the Online Print Ordering Wizard and Yahoo Briefcase is included in the Web Publishing Wizard. What's more, for users of Microsoft's new operating system -- due to be released Thursday -- Yahoo Mail gets programmed as the default e-mail placement on the Start Menu, Yahoo said in the release.

Yahoo Essentials also takes aim at Microsoft's Internet presence, making users' default start page a personalized My Yahoo page and setting Yahoo as the default search engine. Additionally, it installs Yahoo favorites to the Links and Favorites menus on Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) browser versions 4.0 and above and installs a Yahoo Companion customized toolbar.

But non-Windows XP users need not feel left out of the "Yahooization," as the application also works on Windows NT, 98, 98SE, ME and 2000.

For new Yahoo users, an ID and password is included in the installation process.

Given that Microsoft has been under heavy scrutiny for years for wielding too much power over user desktops, it remains to be seen what reaction this new Yahoo application will garner. No one from Microsoft was immediately available for comment Tuesday.

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