We covered last month that Google was providing personal home pages for Dell. Dell testing preinstalled Google software package from Reuters now looks at how Google is working with Dell to put Google's desktop search and toolbar on Dell computers. It's said to be a test distribution, at the moment. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal looks at that and more about the search battle shaping up within IE7.
John Battelle points to Pressuring Microsoft, PC Makers Team Up With Its Software Rivals (paid sub. required) from the Wall Street Journal, which sparked the Reuters story about Google and Dell. The WSJ article covers how Google might pay Dell fees approaching $1 billion over three years for distribution.
The story goes deeper into concerns by Yahoo and Google that the new search toolbar in Internet Explorer 7 might hurt them, since MSN would be the default. Sure, it might. Then again, MSN Search has been the default in IE since at least IE3, if I recall. Despite this, non-Microsoft search engines haven't just survived, they've thrived. Yes, IE7 sports an actual search box this time, but I still think we'll see users change this off the default setting in various ways.
There's lots of detail on Google wanting Microsoft to ask consumers to make a conscious choice about search providers, rather than IE7 automatically using their choice in IE6 (which is probably MSN Search, for most people). It's an odd argument, given that Google has not demanded that Firefox make consumers do similar choices in that browser. A partnership deal makes Google the default in Firefox, except for Asian-language versions where Yahoo cut its own deals.
Chris Sherman is planning our own look at some of these issues in the near future. I'd love to see some universal agreement about how ALL browsers should handle choices of search providers, in terms of how defaults are set and can be changed. What I fear is another round of stealth default changes, where each of the players constantly try to switch you around.
Google and Yahoo encourage you to choose them as a default search provider through their software apps. I don't mind, because I can see they are clearly asking me when this happens. Both also try to encourage you to change in other ways, as you can see here and here. Again, I don't mind, because you can understand what's going on. But a few years ago, other players would just make the changes, leaving users puzzled about why all their searches mysteriously started going through some new search engine. We don't need that again.