Microsoft Expands Program To Bribe Users Into Using Its Search

from the when-in-doubt,-bribe-users dept

A few years ago, Bill Gates had indicated that if all else failed in winning over users from Google, Microsoft was prepared to resort to bribing users to use its search engine, rather than the competitors'. Back in May, this plan kicked off for certain product searches, where actual buyers would end up getting cash back. But, that's rather limited to a very specific type of search and very limited results. So, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Microsoft has now opened up a new program, called SearchPerks, which is an attempt to bribe users to use Microsoft's regular search. Of course, the incentive isn't very strong. It only works in Internet Explorer, and you get a tiny number of "points" each time you search, and you need a lot of points to redeem prizes. It's kind of like those silly carnival games, where the amount of effort you need to actually win enough tickets to get anything makes the whole prospect of participating worthless. Unless, of course, you figure out how to game the system, as many users did on Microsoft's earlier attempt. Still, it's rather telling that Microsoft is still resorting to trying to bribe users to use its search engine. Where are all those people who insisted that Microsoft could beat any competitor at will because it was so big, and all it needed to do was copy them? That doesn't seem to be happening in search.
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Filed Under: bribes, search
Companies: microsoft

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  1. identicon
    James Stevens, 2 Oct 2008 @ 5:37pm


    I'd use Google anyway even if Microsoft tried to pay me to use MSN.

    Go to and tell me what you see... now go to Google... it seems to me that Google understands that they are first and foremost a search engine. MSN is more of a portal.

    Also, Google understands that they shouldn't piss off their users and they understand the concept of having fans and playing their cards on the side of the mainstream, new age computer user. Until Microsoft shuts up about pirating and persecutes those users (who happen to be the majority these days), people will never see Micro as their kind of company... I believe that's one of Google's biggest advantages; they've got the fans on their side.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Josh, 2 Oct 2008 @ 5:59pm

    Re: Lmao

    Your argument doesn't make any sense. Goto, and goto tada! Now goto, and goto You're trying to compare apples to oranges. And it's not like 'search' is microsoft's core business - that's why doesn't look like

    And IS a portal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, 2 Oct 2008 @ 8:02pm

    Ok, I went to and eeek! ahhh.

    Even at, microsoft cannot resist the urge to be cute. The sudden flash of squares and sparkles; am I suppose to enjoy the visual distractions? I don't, I find them irritating.

    So again, your comparison helps drive the point that Microsoft still does not understand "search".

    Microsoft understands granny-blanket, mommy-knows-best, do-what-I-say, My-way_or_no-way sort of attitude. Microsoft is like getting on the Interstate Highway in the USA without exits. Where do you want to go? If it is on our way we will take you there, no you cannot drive, sit and accept your destination.

    Microsoft has forgotten that their Interstate is only valuable if you can do your own driving and choose your own path.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2008 @ 8:25pm

    How lame is that ?

    Microsoft has thrown in the towel. They can not compete with a better product thast people like to use, so they attempt to buy their clicks.

    that is so lame.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Erv Server, 2 Oct 2008 @ 8:32pm

    MSN Search

    I don't like the results I get with Microsoft search so....doesn't matter how much they pay

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Oct 2008 @ 8:48pm

    Microsoft has grown big and stupid. All the bright people have left. That is their core problem. I mean, just look at the brilliance of Ballmer as CEO...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Mike42 (profile), 2 Oct 2008 @ 9:16pm

    Lets face it...

    Anonymous Coward is absolutely right. The Microsoft of today is the IBM of 1985 - an 800-pound gorilla with a pea-brain. If you were alive and in the game then - which I was - you saw this underdog company called Microsoft take it to the man. Everyone ripped off Microsoft, trying to make their own flavor of dos, but there was only one that worked across all the machines. Microsoft was the seal of quality.
    Now, they actively ignore the bulk of their users in favor of the vocal few, and shove garbage like the Ribbon paradigm in Word (users kept asking for features already in Word!) and "limited rights" in Vista (It's too insecure! We need to make it so that even the administrator doesn't have administrator rights!)
    Now smaller, lighter, cheaper, less powerful netbooks are coming out running Linux and giving people what they need, basic e-mail, browser, and word processing. No massively bloated OS requiring 4gig and a half-gig video card. Microsoft jumped the shark with Office 2007, and it's time for Potsie to sing his song...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Tech, 2 Oct 2008 @ 10:36pm

    Always google

    I'd use Google. Google docs, Google notes etc etc. I am not going to use Money Sucker (MS)stuff

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Verse, 2 Oct 2008 @ 11:44pm

    Whats Microsoft?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    IDImageIndexTitleCreatedModifiedMarkedDueDate Exce, 3 Oct 2008 @ 12:12am

    I'm a PC too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Touché, 3 Oct 2008 @ 12:23am

    Re: I'm a PC too.

    Whoops! My name field wasn't empty as it should have been. Let's try this again... Damn the Clipboard replacement program I bought.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Ppitstop, 3 Oct 2008 @ 1:03am

    results over polish

    People search to find what to find not to get little treats.

    If you want people to use your product make it better than the others.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Scott Lithgow, 3 Oct 2008 @ 1:06am

    Be the first not catchup

    Microsoft has never been the best or the first at anything just better organised.

    Now though there are lots of other who can do what they do well so they will have to get thinking as coming second all the time will cost them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2008 @ 1:37am

    More Information Than You Require

    HEY you internet enabled Microsoft employees!

    Did you know John Hodgman is coming out with a new book on the 21st? It's called "More Information Than You Require", a follow up to the legacy "The Areas of My Expertise". Now, Hodgman has set the bar high-- the chapter "The Secrets of the Mall of America" in his first book was insanely funny, and something I pirated around to at least 20 Microsoft Employees, and they told me they would go out and buy the book, which I am sure they did.

    Personally, I bought and gave away at least 10 print copies myself, so don't be a pirate this time! On the 21st, take a long lunch. Pick up the phone and call 3600. Tell them your need to get RTC 4 or something. When they drop you off, there's a bookstore called "Borders" a block away. You'll need to run, as the goal is to rip the book from someone more senior than you. If you are successful, you win 3 internets.

    Can Hodgman continue with his unique style of humor? Only time will tell!

    Can PC => Mac? No idea! Only you can tell. Who will be to the bookstore first? Is it YOU?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Keith Jolie, 3 Oct 2008 @ 5:55am

    Microsoft has search?

    Is it me or has Microsoft done a horrible job of getting the word out that they even have a search engine? I have used microsoft live, but when I read this post I had to think for a minute to think where I would go to do a microsoft search...

    I think the "live" branding is part of their problem - it doesn't stand out or say "search"

    Google is a word that at least stands out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), 3 Oct 2008 @ 6:04am


    New Microsoft marketing slogan:

    "Search that sucks so bad we have to pay you to use it."

    Rather than bite at the rather meager reward for a search engine that forces the use of a non-standard virus-magnet browser, I'd settle for one that just gets me the results I'm looking for most of the time. Google.

    BTW, I suspect that since you have to download a "tracking app", you will be penalized for using any other search engine.

    Note to M$: Call me, and I will explain to you exactly where you can stick that, and how far.
    -- Without the 2nd Amendment, the rest of the document is just wishful thinking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2008 @ 6:43am

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    EEJ (profile), 3 Oct 2008 @ 7:51am


    Here's a case in point: I don't even know what the Microsoft Live Search website is......

    It's also not listed anywhere in this article directly. Could be part of the problem. I have heard of "Windows Live", but never bothered to look into it.

    The funniest part of this? I opened up a new tab, which defaults to google, and searched for "microsoft live search" just to FIND their search engine.

    How's that for market share?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Paul, 3 Oct 2008 @ 8:01am

    Re: Ha!

    I think you get to Live Search by Googling it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Common Sense, 3 Oct 2008 @ 8:07am

    Blown out of proportion

    Guys, calm down. This is no different than any other rewards/loyalty program that another company uses. MS knows it's losing search, we know it's losing search, and so does every other search provider out there; no one is stating new information.

    What MS is doing is trying to create more activity on it's site so that habit can form. Google has become a verb, thats tough to crack and this is one method for MS to try and break in.

    I am not switching off of google, but I am certainly not upset if MS wants to pay me to search on live. I don't think it will work, but I don't think this is indicative of MS losing their minds or focus. I don't think they will win this battle with google, but overall they are still doing many things right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    KY, 3 Oct 2008 @ 8:15am

    Re: Re: Ha!

    I get to live search by installing Internet Explorer 8.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Yakov Smirnoff, 3 Oct 2008 @ 8:25am

    In Soviet Russia, I don't go to Live Search, Computer brings Live Search to me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Oct 2008 @ 8:27am

    Microsoft is very much in the 'portal' mentality, despite the lack of interest on consumers behalf.

    Two prime examples:
    Upon acquiring SysInternals they changed all of the in-program default search engines from Google (or a user default) to the horrid and all but useless msn-search - where you end up taking your query to Google anyways (especially if you are running a local redirection to send the queries to Google automatically).
    - Upon signing out of Hotmail you not returned to the Hotmail login page but to the eyesore that is

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Reason, 3 Oct 2008 @ 8:40am

    Why do they even bother?

    What I don't get is, why does Microsoft think they have to compete in every possible arena? Doesn't the company have enough money and products and income? Do they really need to compete in the search space (let's ignore the fact that they seem incapable of competing in the search space)? Why are they in the portal space? Does anybody really use MSN? Would you miss it if it disappeared tomorrow? Would you miss Live Search? For that matter, would you miss Microsoft Live anything? I had to use Microsoft Live Meeting for a webinar once (the vendor was a MS partner, and had already drank the Kool-Aid), and guess what? It sucked. Couldn't get it to work. GoToMeeting and Webex are orders of magnitude better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    not an idiot, 3 Oct 2008 @ 10:57pm

    gaming the system

    hey, if they want to give me cash back for buying a playstation 3, sure, i'll use their search a few times!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. icon
    ConceptJunkie (profile), 6 Oct 2008 @ 7:28am

    My sole experience with MSN search...

    IMO, Microsoft has passed beyond the point where they cannot compete to the point where they cannot even doing anything well.

    Here's the story of my experience with MSN search and IE 7.

    I agree with the poster above: you couldn't pay me to use MSN search. I totally love the idea that people are gaming the system to win free swag from Microsoft.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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