We heard briefly from Steve Ballmer in his CES keynote address about new developments involving Microsoft's Live Search web search engine, so here's a recap and some further details you might have missed.
As previously speculated, Live Search will be set as the default search provider on most PCs that Dell sells, from February 2009, for the next three years. The deal involves "a majority of consumer and small business PCs" sold worldwide by Dell - in a total of 23 countries - also being preloaded with a Live Search enabled toolbar (it is unclear whether this will be the MSN Toolbar, Windows Live Toolbar or a different specialised toolbar).
Also announced, and also previously speculated, was a five year deal offering Live Search on Verizon Wirelss phones. Local, portal, mobile content and Internet search will be provided by Live Search on all new Verizon smartphones and feature phones in the US, starting from the first half of 2009. Some devices will be also able to use voice commands to control the search and be able to access maps and directions.
As well as this, the deal means that Microsoft will provide search and display advertising across Verizon's mobile web and search services, apparently providing targeted and relevant advertisements. Financial details of the agreement have not been released.
The final announcement is an update to the Live Search Mobile application for Windows Mobile. The update includes better location detection (you no longer need GPS for it to find your location), predictive query input (also known as relevant auto-complete), and Bird's Eye view maps (similar to that available in the full version of Live Search Maps).
The update works on Windows Mobile 5 and 6 and can be downloaded by navigating your mobile device to wls.live.com. To find out more about Live Search on your Windows Mobile, BlackBerry or other device, you can visit the Live Search Mobile site on your PC.