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HP To Offer AOL Services On New PCs

Under the agreement, the AOL portal would be set as the default homepage in the computer's Web browser, which would also include the toolbar, and have AOL as the default search engine.
AOL on Monday said it has signed an agreement with Hewlett-Packard to offer co-branded versions of AOL's portal, toolbar and search on HP desktops and notebooks sold worldwide. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the agreement, the AOL portal would be set as the default homepage in the computer's Web browser, which would also include the toolbar, and have AOL as the default search engine. The services would be localized for each country.

The deal is an expansion of the existing relationship between HP and AOL. A co-branded portal is the default homepage in the browser that ships with consumer PCs in the United States.

In the latest agreement, the default portal would be based on myAOL, a customizable, modular homepage that was recently released in public beta in the United States. The portal would provide space for end users to access HP content, services and partner offerings, as well as offer access to other AOL products and services in international markets.

"This agreement provides us a unique opportunity to showcase our portal, toolbar and other products and services to a truly global audience," Ron Grant, president and chief operating officer for AOL, said in a statement.

While adding software and services to PCs may seem like a good idea, it has drawn lots of complaints from PC buyers who often refer to such unwanted offerings as "junkware." Many users would prefer to install their own software, but PC makers see such offerings as a source of revenue at a time when margins are slim, particularly with desktop computers.

For some time, AOL has been moving its services to the Web from its proprietary portal, which was popular during the years that dial-up dominated the online industry. Besides offering its services through a browser, AOL gives away to broadband users a desktop application called OpenRide that provides access to e-mail, instant messaging, Web browsing, online search, and a digital entertainment media center.