Microsoft announced its first major distribution deal for Windows Live services, including desktop access to the Windows Live portal and a pre-loaded Windows Live toolbar on Lenovo's ThinkPad notebooks, ThinkCentre desktops, and Lenovo-branded PCs. Lenovo became the world's third-largest computer maker when it acquired IBM's PC unit in 2005, and the IBM logo still appears on the ThinkPad and ThinkCentre products outside China.
The deal will introduce new Lenovo customers to Live.com, and Microsoft is betting that many of those users will not change their default settings to another home page or search engine. Lenovo previously had a similar deal with Google, which this deal will apparently replace, according to a Bloomberg report. Justin Osmer, a senior product manager at Microsoft, said the deal is exclusive for several years. He also said other such deals are in the works, and will be announced in coming months.
Google struck up a similar deal with Dell in May 2006, which pre-loaded Google's toolbar and desktop search with a co-branded homepage. Microsoft had been in the running for that deal as well, but opted out when the price got too high, according to Osmer.
"We are not in the business to lose money hand over fist, year after year, so these have to make fiscal sense to us," Osmer told Bloomberg. "The Dell example is one where it ballooned to a point where it did not make any sense to play in that sandbox, so we let that one go."