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Sun to distribute Microsoft's toolbar

Sun, which had been partnering with Redmond's rivals in the Internet arena, will now distribute the MSN toolbar.

Usually when I get news about Sun Microsystems and Microsoft working together, it is some highly technical enterprise collaboration stemming from their lawsuit settlement a few years back.

On Monday, though, the companies announced something in the consumer arena. Sun will start distributing the MSN toolbar to Internet Explorer users when they download Sun's Java Runtime Environment.

The companies said that Sun's Java runtime is downloaded tens of millions of times per month.

"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," Microsoft senior vice president Yusuf Mehdi said in a statement. "With the vast array of Java software-based Web applications that are downloaded every month, this deal will expose Live Search to millions more Internet users and drive increased volume for our search advertisers."

On its own, the news won't change the shape of the Internet. However, it does represent some shifting allegiances for Sun, which had been allied with Microsoft's rivals.

Until just recently, those downloading the Google Pack of desktop software received Sun's StarOffice, though that has apparently reached an end. As part of a 2005 deal, Sun was also to distribute Google's toolbar. Sun also has distributed Yahoo's toolbar.