Since mid-2006, new PCs from Dell (DELL) have come pre-installed with a search toolbar from Google (GOOG), and Microsoft’s (MSFT) own IE web browser used google.com as the default search engine.
No longer? ZDnet’s Mary Jo Foley is reporting a new deal may be in the works between Dell and Microsoft to dump the Google toolbar for Microsoft’s own Live Search toolbar. Neither Microsoft nor Dell will confirm the deal, and Foley attriibutes the report only to “sources familiar with the arrangement.”
If the report is true, and Google doesn’t win a bidding war, it’s a victory for Microsoft, which will win at least some traffic to Windows Live just as new digital head Qi Lu will be revamping the company’s online services. (Of course, some savvy Dell users will probably switch their defaults to Google before giving Microsoft a second search query.)
Dell isn’t the only front in Microsoft’s bid to land pre-install deals: The company also is trying to became the default search engine for Verizon Wireless’s mobile phones, going up against Google in what seems like another bidding war.