As of Monday, U.S. users of Microsoft Internet Explorer can add Microsoft's toolbar as an option when downloading Sun's Java Runtime Environment.
The Java runtime has wide distribution, which Microsoft hopes to tap.
"This agreement with Sun Microsystems is another important milestone in our strategy to secure broad-scale distribution for our search offering, enabling millions more people to experience the benefits of Live Search," stated Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft's senior vice president of the Online Audience Business.
Microsoft currently holds about 10 percent of the global search market. It's in third place, trailing badly behind No. 2 Yahoo and No. 1 Google.
Search ad revenues depend on users clicking on ads generated by a query. Microsoft has tried other options to increase the use of its Live Search engine, including a "cashback" program that provides product discounts to Live Search users.
As pointed out by veteran Microsoft watcher Mary-Jo Foley and others, Sun and Microsoft have a history of legal tussles over Java. Sun successfully sued Microsoft twice, purporting misuse of Java technology. Microsoft settled all claims after paying out about $720 million total to Sun for both lawsuits.
Sun had previously bundled Google's search toolbar as a download option with its Java runtime. Now, under the new deal with Microsoft, Google's toolbar is only being distributed with Sun's Java runtime outside the U.S. market.
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