Lenovo Group on Wednesday said it has agreed to preload Microsoft's Windows Live online services in its PCs, giving a potential boost to the software maker's lagging search service.
The Chinese company plans to make Live.com, a customizable Web page for news, information, and search, the default home page in the Internet Explorer Web browser, which also will include Microsoft's toolbars. The deal replaces a similar agreement with Google.
The agreement matches the third-largest PC maker with the third-ranking search engine. Lenovo's worldwide PC sales are behind No. 1 Dell and Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft is far behind search leaders Google and Yahoo, with less than 11% of the market as of January, according to comScore Networks.
While Lenovo customers will be able to change the browser settings to another search provider, people often keep the default settings, experts say.
Lenovo, which bought IBM's PC unit in 2005, is the first computer maker to agree to preload Windows Live services. The company plans to include the services in its Lenovo-branded PCs, as well as ThinkPad notebooks and ThinkCentre desktops.
Peter Gaucher, executive director for strategic alliances at Lenovo, declined to discuss whether Microsoft outbid Google to replace its rival, saying only that the decision was a "combination" of business and technology considerations. The deal with Microsoft, however, goes further than one the company had with Google, since the new agreement includes Live.com as the default home page for IE. The agreement with Google only involved its toolbar, Gaucher said.
In the future, Lenovo plans to incorporate support and other customer-focused services and information in the home page, Gaucher said.
This article was edited on March 14 to add additional information from Lenovo.