Ditching Google as its default search application, Lenovo announced that Microsoft Windows Live will now be the portal of choice, and will soon be bundled with the company's PCs and laptops.
The partnership extends to all Lenovo computers, including its ThinkCenter desktops and ThinkPad notebooks.
Previously, the company had been shipping its machines with a suite of Google applications, including Google's browser toolbar, search software, and photo-editing program.
Lenovo said it plans to continue to work with Google in other areas.
With Live.com on Lenovo machines, users can customize their home page content, create multiple pages according to their interests, and add content from multiple sources. The Windows Live Toolbar will allow users one-click access to Live Search, which enables category searches within images, maps, news items, and Web sites.
Neither company disclosed the terms of the deal, or whether the bundle would be a permanent part of Lenovo machines. It does mark the first time that Microsoft has inked a deal with a computer maker to preload its Windows Live Toolbar on PCs and laptops.
The bundling deal is one of several that Lenovo has pursued in the past few years. Most significantly, in 2005, the Chinese company offered some PCs loaded with Sun's StarOffice 8, a suite of applications that use the OpenDocument format.
That bundle was only good in Singapore, but it did show the company's flexibility in creating new software and hardware packages, noted analysts at the time of the deal.
Search and Discover
The deal with Lenovo is a good win for Microsoft, said Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg. Although having strategic placement does not guarantee market victory, he noted, it is a significant benefit for Microsoft to have Lenovo users seeing Windows Live as their default setting.
"Google had made inroads in this area, but now it looks like Microsoft is starting to recapture some of its share," said Gartenberg. "And success tends to breed success, so we'll see if Microsoft can do other deals based on this one."
Part of the win comes from the fact that users tend not to change default settings on their computers. Although the security community has groaned over the implications of consumers leaving factory settings on routers and security software, the habit of using what comes "out of the box" will help Microsoft, Gartenberg added.
"Getting a foothold in the out-of-box experience is very important," he said. "Ultimately, consumer choice decides who wins, so it's not enough for Microsoft to just be a default provider, but to remain a default provider. For that, they're going to have to make sure their product is reliable."