Microsoft and Handspring Forge Deal

Microsoft Corp., in another effort to promote its growing MSN Internet service, has struck a deal with hand-held device maker Handspring Inc. to carry MSN on Handspring’s mobile Web browser.

A wireless service called MSN Mobile will be the default provider of information on Blazer, the newest version of Handspring’s browser, both companies said.

Currently, consumers must buy the browser software separately from outside distribution companies, though it will eventually come bundled with Handspring products.

The browser also will be included in a new software suite sold as part of Handspring’s VisorPhone product, which allows Handspring devices to be used like phones.

The deal is notable because Handspring (HAND) devices run on software made by Microsoft’s archrival Palm Inc.

Until recently, Microsoft (MSFT) has almost exclusively promoted its own operating system for wireless devices, called Windows CE. But with companies such as Palm (PALM) continuing to dominate their markets at the expense of Microsoft, the Redmond, Wash., company may see the need to offer its services more widely.

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