Microsoft Corp. today announced a search distribution deal with Sun Microsystems Inc. to offer the MSN Toolbar, powered by Microsoft Live Search, to U.S.-based Internet Explorer users when they download the Java™ Runtime Environment (JRE™), effective as of today.
Through this agreement, Internet Explorer users downloading Sun’s JRE will have the option to download the MSN Toolbar and have one-click access to Live Search features, as well as news, entertainment, sports and more from the MSN network and direct access to Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger.
The Java Runtime Environment is one of the highest-volume consumer downloads on the Web, with tens of millions of downloads each month from http://java.com.
Seems like a fairly predictable eyeball buy and in this case Microsoft is replacing Google whose deal dating back to 2005 had apparently expired:
Financial terms, as well as the duration of the partnership, were not disclosed.
Sun provided few details about why its relationship with Google had ended in the United States (The Google toolbar will continue to be bundled with Java abroad).
Klein said Sun had "made a change in direction."
A separate agreement – under which Sun put the Google toolbar within its StarOffice suite – will also expire Monday, although the two companies continue to have other business relationships.
The Google toolbar in StarOffice will not be replaced by Microsoft’s offering.
Likely not unrelated is also the disappearance of Sun’s StarOffice from the Google Pack. Danny Sullivan also notes the oddity that this is the MSN toolbar, not the Windows Live Toolbar. Of course, the bigger oddity is why there are two Microsoft browser toolbars in the first place.
Overshadowed by all the hoopla late yesterday over the new betas for Windows Live Search and the new Windows Live Toolbar, the Windows Live Favorites beta also got a refresh featuring better integration with the MSN Toolbar. Yes, the MSN Toolbar. Are there too many duplicate Microsoft online products and betas yet?
Today at the O’Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference, Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of Windows Live™ Search beta, designed to help people simply find the information on the Web that matters most to them. The new search service offers a new innovative design with rich viewing and organizational tools, extensive search categories such as image and local search, and services that help people customize results. Other core technologies that complement Windows Live Search, including an updated version of Live.com and a Windows Live Toolbar beta, were also released today. These services are now available in the U.S. and in select international markets in which feature availability will vary.
Windows Live Search delivers the results users are looking for via a unique design with advanced tools for helping people quickly find, view, organize and preview search results. Through new features such as search preview, scoping tools, a search slider bar that increases the level of result information on the results page, and smart scrolling that enables people to view search results without moving from page to page, Windows Live Search delivers enhanced control over the search experience. Through simple precision tools, people can search within the context of the task they are performing and ultimately get their answer fast.
The new Windows Live Toolbar offers people the ability to search from any Web page using Windows Live Search while helping them easily save, organize and share the information that they find online. Advanced protection against phishing and pop-up blocking also help people browse more safely while they search. Additional features of the beta include RSS detection and automatic aggregation to a person’s personalized Live.com home page, capability for effortless customization so people can choose and arrange only the buttons they want, and tabbed browsing for quicker Web surfing. The Windows Live Toolbar includes technology from Onfolio Inc., which enables customers to save, collect and share any part or the full Web page of the information they discover while searching the Web.
Live.com, the fast, customizable home page for Windows Live, also released a significant upgrade today, including a new design and features that help users quickly customize their home page, preview content, create multiple pages based on their interests, and add their favorite content from millions of information sources and RSS feeds.
There’s more by following the link. All of this, and particularly the spiffy new Live Search UI, will require some tire kicking to assess the value, but Microsoft is clearly putting some serious thought into these offerings. This is also the beginning of the end for MSN Search and the MSN Toolbar which these Live versions will eventually replace. The Onfolio acquisition is mentioned in the immediately previous post.
Ed Oswald at BetaNews:
Microsoft on Wednesday released betas of two add-ins for its MSN Search Toolbar.
The Windows Live Favorites add-in enables users to import their current favorites from both Internet and MSN Explorer, and use them right away through the service. New sites can be added with a single click, and favorites can be searched by name, address or keyword.
Users who take advantage of the Windows Live Favorites service would be able to access their saved Web pages from any computer with an Internet connection, including machines based on operating systems other than Windows, Microsoft has said.
The preview add-in allows users of MSN Search to view thumbnails of Web sites beside the links in each search result. Mousing over the thumbnail will magnify the image for closer inspection. Microsoft said this would speed up the search process by eliminating the need to click on every result.