It’s taken its time, but Yahoo is finally getting its revamped mail service out of beta, giving its 284 million users social network integration, faster search and more.

With social networking sites increasingly becoming many people’s preferred means of communication, the new version allows Facebook and Twitter updates to be posted directly from within Yahoo’s email boxes through a reply bar. It’s also possible to chat with friends who are logged into Facebook directly from Yahoo Mail.

There’s also a prioritization feature placing a user’s most frequent contacts at the top of the list, and the ability to search IM and SMS conversations as well as emails.

The company claims that the new version is also much faster than its predecessor.

“This is the largest redesign of Yahoo Mail in six years, and we rebuilt it with a focus on performance to make it at least two times faster than previous versions of Yahoo Mail,” it says.  “In addition, we upgraded our spam technology to ensure that you aren’t receiving unwanted messages.”

Other new features include inbox customization – because a pretty inbox is just so important – and an app called YouSendIt, designed to make sending large files quicker and easier. The company says it can deal with attachments of up to 100MB.

The new version has been in beta since October, but will now be rolled out worldwide over the next few weeks. Yahoo needs it: although it still has more users than Gmail, Gmail’s catching up rapidly.