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Yahoo opening up home page to outside sources

Yahoo linking to different sites on the Web on its home page as part of strategy to open up and re-portalize.

Yahoo is changing its home page to add links to outside sites for the first time as part of its move toward more openness and focus on being the front door to the Internet for most people.

The company "turned on" its new main page to the general public on Thursday. It looks the same, except the items in the Featured section in the center of the page now include links to news and other items located on outside sites. The items are chosen by editors.

In testing, the site has linked to The Wall Street Journal, NASA, Forbes and Time, among others, but could link to any site on the Web. To avoid overwhelming smaller sites with traffic, Yahoo may feature them as related links instead of using them as the main story, says Tapan Bhat, vice president of front doors at Yahoo.

"We are the only one of the old portals to do that," Bhat says of the move to provide links to sites outside of the company's network. "We are linking to the best stuff around the Web."

The move fits in with the "open attitude" the company is espousing as a way of differentiating itself from rivals. It also is designed to help Yahoo meet one of its prime objectives that Chief Executive Jerry Yang outlined in a conference call with analysts after announcing the third-quarter financial results last week. That goal is "to become the starting point for most consumers on the Internet," he said.