HP and AOL are tightening their partnership, as far as desktops are concerned. HP has agreed to couple their new systems, both PCs and notebooks, with more AOL-rich "functionality". From now on, the affected systems will default to having AOL's portal as the default homepage along with having the toolbar installed. For Vista, which has a default search engine feature, AOL would be choice number one.

It wouldn't be just AOL, but rather a co-branding in which HP customers will access services for their PC through this portal. They will also custom-tailor the software for each country that HP deals machines to. AOL is nothing but happy about this, seeing it as a way to attract more customers:

"This agreement provides us a unique opportunity to showcase our portal, toolbar and other products and services to a truly global audience," said Ron Grant, President and Chief Operating Officer, . "At a time when international online markets are experiencing rapid growth, is now poised to enable people around the world to create a personally relevant online destination."
In a world in which people are becoming disillusioned with the plethora of "free" software that ships with new PCs and laptops, the last business move you'd expect a desktop retailer to do is add more software. If it all boils down to just money, bundled software is probably going to win out. After all, even Dell said it would cost them money to remove the six hundred mini-apps and trialware loaded on new PCs. Obviously HP feels the same.

No mention as to how much money will change hands as a part of this deal. According to HP, their customers actually prefer these "unique features".