Remember all those urban legends about Bill Gates paying you money to forward an email? Well, perhaps it's not so crazy after all. John Battelle is pointing to a story that suggests Bill Gates is thinking about sharing advertising revenue from MSN search with users, as a way to lure them away from Google. This isn't a new idea, really. Random startups have tried this over the years, and it was the original basis for the startup iWon.com, which is now owned by IAC (as part of AskJeeves). Hell, there was a (very brief) period of time when Google offered to pay people for every search that was done via a search box you put on your own website -- a program that never really went very far. However, all of these "we'll pay you to do x" business models always sound... bubbly. They tend to attract scammers of all kinds, rather than simply encouraging people to use your product because it helps solve a need. Still, what would be more interesting is finding out how certain anti-trust regulators feel about that kind of move. While Microsoft should be able to do it if they want, it wouldn't be surprising to see some companies cry foul, and claim that Microsoft is abusing their monopoly position in doing this (should they ever actually go down that path).
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