Hewlett-Packard probably looked at the big pile of cash Microsoft pushed under Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang's nose, and thought: If you're not interested, I wouldn't mind a piece of that. Microsoft just wants to find a way to drive users to their Live Search toolbar, and they really don't care how they do it. Now Microsoft has struck a deal with Hewlett-Packard to make Live Search the default search engine on Hewlett-Packard PCs in North America, starting in January.
The deal also calls for HP, the world's largest PC maker, to install copies of Internet Explorer with an extra Live Search toolbar on those computers. Microsoft said the toolbar also links to HP services such as its Snapfish digital photo printing site.
Since Microsoft called off its $47.5 billion offer to buy search competitor Yahoo Inc., the company has been under pressure to prove it has a new plan for attracting more people to Live Search.
If Microsoft manges to cobble together a portfolio of other ways to drive search traffic to their Live Search and compete with Yahoo! for second place instead of buying it, Jerry Yang is going to have to come to work with bodyguards to keep his shareholders from beating him up everyday at his office. Don't overlook the significance of the deal; according to a Microsoft spokesman, they expect about 40 percent of computer users to use whatever search engine is the default installation on their machine.