Computer maker Dell said Jan. 30 it has quietly begun testing a new partnership with Internet search provider Google.

For now, some Dell laptops and desktop computers are sold with two Google Inc. search features pre-installed, a Dell spokesman said.

Dell is also putting the paces to a Google-powered Web site that appears to be a hybrid of Dell's online store and Google's personalized Web site.

A Dell spokesperson had no further comment. A Google spokesperson deferred comment to Dell.

By partnering with Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, Google has found a partner to help it chip away at Microsoft's dominance of the personal computer desktop software market.

Nancy Adzentoivich of SearchViews, which reported on several signs of the partnership Jan. 26, says she thinks so.

Adzentoivich asks in her blog, "Is this the bell tolling for Microsoft? I mean, Microsoft desktop search was not on my Dell," though she notes Microsoft's ubiquitous Internet Explorer Web browser did come pre-installed.

Google has been poised to distribute desktop software through a partnership with Sun Microsystems, whose Java programming language is used to download software onto digital devices.

From Dell's perspective, it gets to tie its line of low-priced consumer and enterprise devices to Google, which has a brand recognition that outdoes Apple Computer, which is the perennial leader in this regard.

Check out eWEEK.com's Search Center for the latest news, views and analysis on enterprise search technology.

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