PC maker Acer has agreed to set Yahoo's search pages as a default into all its PCs, giving the portal company a leg up in its battle with Google and MSN.
In a deal announced on Thursday, Acer will put a customised toolbar and start page on all the PCs it sells worldwide, and make Yahoo the default search engine.
From October, the browser on new Acer PCs will load a start page that offers new users Yahoo content and other services including Yahoo Mail, Yahoo News and Yahoo Finance. It will also include links to Acer service and support.
Yahoo would not reveal how much it is paying, but the deal is believed to be funded by shared ad revenue.
The deal echoes one struck between Dell and Google earlier this year, which put the Google toolbar and a similar homepage on millions of PCs. Yahoo reportedly was outbid by Google for the Dell deal, which does not cover all Dell PCs.
Other moves in the increasingly-intense search wars include Yahoo striking a deal to put search-related ads on eBay, and using eBay's PayPal service for payments on Yahoo sites.
"Every single hardware manufacturer is starting to discover there is some money to be made," said Glen Drury, Yahoo's vice president for Europe. "Acer isn't our first partner, and it won't be the last."
On most new PCs, Microsoft and MSN are the default search and homepage, but the deal is not just about winning back share, said Drury: "It's not particularly us challenging MSN or Google on search," he said. "I can tell you that Google doesn't sell any display adverts, and MSN is only just starting to sell keywords around search. We can provide them with a full service product."
Although it is possible to change the defaults, Drury said the initial settings are important: "Most people don't switch their homepage when it is set — I know few people who even know how to set their homepage. What they get used to is what they stick with."
Yahoo has around 500 million users, said Drury, and expects to gain more through the deal. Acer will put the toolbar on all PCs from October, and make other changes when Microsoft ships Internet Explorer 7.
The two companies will develop country-specific toolbars and start pages in Brazil, Canada (English and French), France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Spain, Taiwan, the UK and the US (English and Spanish).