In a modest win for Microsoft’s struggling online services business, Microsoft said late Tuesday that computer maker Lenovo Group will preload Windows Live services on its ThinkPad notebooks, ThinkCentre desktops and Lenovo-branded PCs.
Lenovo will integrate the Windows Live Toolbar on computers so that when users start up, they will see it on their desktops, said Justin Osmer, a Microsoft senior product manager. Through the toolbar, users can access Windows Live Search and other Live services, including a customized Windows Live homepage that they can set up for quick access to their favorite sites, he said.
Microsoft would not disclose the terms or duration of the deal between the two companies. It is the first deal Microsoft has struck with a computer maker to preload the Windows Live Toolbar on PCs. However, Osmer said Microsoft would seek similar deals with other vendors to integrate Windows Live Toolbar with PCs.
Microsoft unveiled its Windows Live brand for its Web-based services in November 2005. Since then, it has revamped Live’s e-mail and search services and added new ones in an effort to earn more online advertising revenue in competition with Google. So far, however, Microsoft has had little success, and revenue for its online services business remained flat in its last fiscal year.
On a recent conference call, financial analysts from UBS Investment Research said Microsoft was losing share to Google in search queries and ad revenue. As a remedy, analysts suggested Microsoft strike deals such as the one with Lenovo to integrate its Windows Live Toolbar directly onto PCs to give users more access to its services.
-Elizabeth Montalbano, IDG News Service (New York Bureau)
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