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Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times reporter Sharon Chan.

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November 10, 2008 9:37 AM

One-time Microsoft enemy Sun Microsystems to distribute Live Search toolbar

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano

Starting today, Sun Microsystems will distribute an MSN Toolbar, including a Microsoft Live Search box, to Internet Explorer users in the U.S. who download Sun's Java Runtime Environment, a necessary plug-in for viewing many Web pages.

The distribution deal is one of several Microsoft has struck this year to try to boost its share of the Internet search market, which has declined almost two percentage points to 8.5 percent in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, Google's share of the U.S. search market, as measured by comScore, is about 63 percent.

"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," Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft senior vice president, said in a statement. The deal will "expose Live Search to millions more Internet users and drive increased volume for our search advertisers."

Financial details of the distribution deal, which gives users the option of downloading the toolbar, were not disclosed.

Sun, a historic Microsoft rival, has a similar deal to distribute a Yahoo toolbar to Firefox users. A similar deal with Google is coming to an end, according to a Sun exec quoted in The Associated Press.

More from the AP's Jessica Mintz:

"Sun was one of the most prominent antagonists in Microsoft's long antitrust battles. In 2004, Sun reaped nearly $2 billion in a patent and antitrust settlement payout from Microsoft."

The Sun announcement follows other efforts Microsoft has struck this year to boost its search share including deals with Hewlett-Packard, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion and Facebook, and promotions that pay users to use its Live Search service.

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