updated 3/23/2005 8:52:24 AM ET 2005-03-23T13:52:24

Yahoo Inc. is quadrupling the amount of storage provided with its free e-mail accounts and upgrading its desktop search software in its ongoing duel with rivals Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Yahoo said late Tuesday that it will provide 1 gigabyte of storage for each free e-mail account.  The current limit is 250 megabytes.  The expanded storage will be available in mid-April, said Brad Garlinghouse, Yahoo's vice president of communications products.

The Sunnyvale-based company also is expanding the reach of its desktop software, a test product designed to find material stored on computer hard drives.  Yahoo's software, licensed from X1 Technologies, will now index content from e-mail address books and discussions in Yahoo's instant messaging service.

The expanded e-mail storage enables Yahoo to catch up with online search engine leader Google, which offers an invitation-only service that has been offering 1 gigabyte of storage for nearly a year.

When Google introduced "Gmail," Yahoo provided just 4 megabytes of free e-mail storage. Yahoo, which runs the world's most popular Web site, has gradually increased its e-mail capacity in response to Google's competitive threat.  Microsoft's Hotmail service offers 250 megabytes of free e-mail storage.

As part of its e-mail changes, Yahoo also is providing software from Symantec Corp. to clean viruses detected in attachments.

Yahoo's desktop software is also competing an array of similar products, including offerings from Google and Microsoft.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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