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Verizon, Microsoft in mobile-search deal

Software maker will see its search engine take center stage on all Verizon Wireless phones over the next five years.

LAS VEGAS--One piece of Microsoft's Consumer Electronics Show news is out of the bag. The company has struck a deal that will see its search engine become the default on Verizon Wireless cell phones for the next five years.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was set to unveil the pact as part of his keynote later Wednesday. However, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg mentioned the deal at a Citigroup conference earlier Wednesday, according to a Reuters report.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the two companies were working on some sort of deal. And it's not the first time that Microsoft has partnered to get content onto Verizon phones.

The Verizon deal is just one part of Ballmer's keynote, which is expected to focus heavily on Windows 7.

A beta version of Windows 7 got leaked onto the Internet late last month, raising hopes that an officially sanctioned version would be available soon. A Microsoft developer's blog post earlier in December also appeared to indicate that the beta would come in January.