Yahoo is to develop its webmail service further by combining its email and chat services.

In the future, Yahoo Mail will incorporate the Yahoo Messenger service. Both functions will be available directly through the browser window without the need for any downloads, the company says. This way, Yahoo hopes to encourage less tech-savvy users to start using services such as chat and RSS.

When a user opens up and addresses an email, an icon appears showing whether the recipient is online. Clicking the icon transforms a conversation from a delayed email message to an immediate instant message conversation.

The stake follows a similar initiative from Google which earlier this year combined its Gmail and Google Talk services.

Yahoo Mail, with its 250 million users, has a user base about 10 times the size of Google's webmail service. Anna Lagerkvist