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.