REDMOND, Washington: As its rivalry with Google heats up Microsoft has signed new online search agreements with computer manufacturer Dell and the cellphone arm of Verizon Wireless. The software titan is also about to launch a test version of its Windows operating system.

The software giant's Windows Live search system will now be included on all Dell's consumer PCs as part of a three year tie-up between the two firms.

It will also be the default search system on the majority of Verizon Wireless internet compatible cellphones for the next five years, thereby effectively gazumping Google. 

Microsoft ceo Steve Ballmer, speaking at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, was philosophical about the impact of the new deals, saying: "Distribution is important, but it doesn't flip the market quickly at all.

"It's going to take a while. Google's a great company with decent market share, and certainly a great product."

A test version of Windows 7 will be released to consumers for evaluation purposes today (Friday), with Ballmer saying the program should be fully launched "within a year".

Data sourced from Financial Times/Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff