unveiled the biggest changes to the design of its home page in two years, including simplified navigation and an enhanced search box.
new page includes a digital personal assistant with which people can access popular features including weather forecasts and movies by moving their mouse over an icon. Other offerings such as My Yahoo! and email are found through buttons near the top and on icons on the left side.
"By focusing on consumers' needs and using what today's technology can deliver, we were able to redefine what a home page could and should be," says Dan Rosensweig, Yahoo!'s chief operating officer.
Versions are also available in the U.K., Ireland, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. They will be rolled out over the next few weeks.
are eager to siphon off advertising dollars from Yahoo!.
Brand advertisers like Yahoo! because people who use the site tend to linger for a while, increasing the likelihood that they will see display ads. Advertisers have to wait as long as a year to get a spot on popular Yahoo! features.
Wall Street also is taking an increased shine to the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, arguing that it benefits from many of the same trends that benefit Google.
"We believe the company is on track to deliver a solid 2006 and is laying the groundwork to be a key player in the media and entertainment market beyond 2006," writes WR Hambrecht analyst Denise Garcia, in a note to clients today. She rates the shares as a buy with a $42 price target.
Investors have been less effusive with their praise, sending the stock down 21% so far this year.
More details about the company's plans, including its recently announced changes to its search advertising technology, will be discussed at its May 17 analysts' meeting.
Shares of Yahoo! fell 3 cents to $31.