Ever determined to close the gap on Google, Microsoft has cut a deal with HP to dope all new PCs it flogs to North Americans with Live Search.
From January next year HP machines will come with the Live Search search enging toolbar pre-installed in Internet Explorer, and the homepage set to Live.com.
Microsoft isn't saying how much it's stuffing into HP's back pocket for access to its millions of North American consumer customers. A similar deal between Google and Dell, inked in 2006, was thought to be worth $1bn over three years.
Google has been the master of these kinds of deals to gobble up market share for its web search. The tens of millions it pumps into the Mozilla Foundation pays for the Google Toolbar to be installed on machines owned by Firefox users worldwide.
Top Redmond web wonk Kevin Johnson stepped up with the canned "we mean business" quote today: "This agreement with HP is a strategic indicator of our increased focus on securing broad-scale distribution for Live Search."
The partnership follows soon after the announcement of a parallel attempt by Microsoft pay to up its measly search market share. A new scheme lets users reap cash back if they use the service to access certain major online retailers.
It's also about to begin splurging $300m on a new marketing campaign aimed at making Microsoft products seem web-trendy. ®