back to article Microsoft pays people to use its search engine

Microsoft will do almost anything to shrink the Google gap. It will even pay people to use its search engine. Today, as first leaked by Todd Bishop's ultra-famous Microsoft blog, Redmond unveiled a new site called "Live Search Cashback." If you use its Live Search engine to find and purchase certain products, Microsoft will …


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  1. James Pickett
    Gates Horns

    Not so much cashback.. a refund for the Windows tax. And given that MS charges more now for Office, when it has millions of customers (and DVD's cost pence) than it did when they had thousands of customers, and the suite came in a proper box, with proper manuals and anything up to 30 floppies, it seems only fair...

  2. Mr B

    How much rebate

    if you buy Vista thru the scheme ???

    / the one with a vista coupon up the sleeve

  3. Anonymous Coward

    It ain't shameless at all really

    just straightforward pragmatic planning

    strategy #1 encountered difficulties therefore invoke strategy #2

  4. Tony Paulazzo
    Gates Halo

    Welcome to the future

    remember the good old days, when Microsoft steamrollered all competition in its path with barely a worry about anti-competitive law suits? Now, normal (ie, non techs), are installing Firefox, Google have sewn up the search market, they can barely give away their flagship operating system and the latest Office... well, least said, soonest mended.

    Methinks the crocodile has lost its teeth, maybe they should re-look at their business plan, and possibly do some online surveys - with cash rewards obviously, to actually find out what THE CUSTOMER wants...

    Or is that too simple?

  5. Geoff Mackenzie

    Maybe ...

    ... this would work for Vista, too?

  6. Steve Liddle

    not for me....

    Friend sent me some document, had an extension *.docx, could not open it in open office or word, thought it might some mac or linux program, then it dawned on me it was office 2007 that is not compatible with most stuff around. Got him to save it in an older version that everyone could use :)

    Getting companies to do what the customer wants would be something strange and not sure for many companies, will stick with firefox and google :)

  7. Joseph Helenihi

    The first thing I thought

    Bill Gates/Microsoft/Your ISP/etc. was going to send x cents or dollars, to <insert charitable cause, or you yourself personally>, according to an email chain sent and in *dire* need of forwarding. If you forward the email, the money would start to flow through a variety of ways ad nauseum.

    This cash savings for Microsoft search engine users who buy advertiser's products sounds recycled, which is good for the planet, right?

    Thanks, mine's the one with the dial-up shell account invoice in the pocket.

  8. David Kelly

    Amazon beat Microsoft to it

    Anyone remember If one used enough as a search engine with cookies that could identify your browser, you got a π/2 % discount (thats supposed to be Pi/2, 3.14/2, roughly 1.5%) off all purchase. At least in the USA.

    The instant Amazon dropped the discount, fell off the radar.

    I miss my discount. Possibly for lack of the discount I don't spend much at Amazon any more. Possibly because their prices are not as good as they once were.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    US only?

    who's betting it is, and probably always will be, after all, if it means consumers in the uk getting something cheaper or cashback theres usually some stupid rule/law other load of bollocks to prevent it, like the tesco and levi's fiasco.

  10. Neil Greatorex

    Unfortunately Microsoft have taken our comments too seriously.

    Dear Microsoft: When I said "You'd have to pay me to use Microsoft Live Search" I really didn't mean it literally. :-)

  11. David

    A Microsoft pledge?

    A Microsoft pledge. That is like saying a dishonest promise.

    Anyway as for paying people to use their stuff, I remember when you had to pay Microsoft. Times have changed. That said, they are still not paying enough for me to use them. If they put $100 in my account each week, then I might use their stuff. But even that might not be enough given the time I would waste using their bloatware.

  12. E

    No... think Phorm

    Do you really want MS tracking what you shop for? There is an ulterior motive here, people.

  13. Kristin McKechie
    Gates Horns

    Errr.... anyone heard of anti-trust laws?

    I'm not a lawyer, (or even American), but I was under the impression that it is illegal in the US for anyone to set up pricing cartels such that competition is stifled, (especially so for an already convicted monopolist.)

    My understanding is that charging customer at or below the cost of production is referred to as 'Predatory Pricing'? Surely, what MS are doing is not paying Buyers to use Live search, they are paying the Advertisers! (i.e. "You pay nothing until we get you a sale, and even then your fee goes into the consumers discount").

    While I'm all for a discount whenever I can get it, it seems to me that MS are running pretty close to the wind - wonder how long before Google responds by calling for the Regulators....

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Search relevance?

    You'd have to pay me to use a search engine that can only return irrelevant results...

    Thankfully they have no "Feeling lucky" function. *rollseyes*

  15. Tim Bates
    Thumb Down

    Not quite MS

    Microsoft is not quite getting it still obviously. We don't want to use it because it's crap. Giving discounts at shops you find on there won't make it popular.

    Even if they paid $1 for every link you followed off the search, I wouldn't use it.

  16. wim


    So a company pays for the comercials that are displayed to people who don't shop at that company ? And Microsoft waves the fee if you shop after clicking on the commercial ?

    I can't stop about thinking how ironic this sounds.

    On the other hand Microsoft must truly understand that displaying multiple adverts on a single page will always makes money for them.

  17. Russell Howe


    Google could just integrate quidco into froogle, and they'd have the same thing...

  18. Mike Crawshaw

    Useful... Not!

    Discounts on E-Bay? Refunds through PayPal (subject to processing fees) - not really an incentive to use this, I'm afraid!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Re: No... think Phorm

    But with Phorm, all the money goes into THEIR bank account. At least M$ are paying ME. I like to encourage that sort of thing!

    Wonder if Google might start a price war? (just hoping)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @US only?

    Just use Quidco anyway? Something urks me about MS doing the tracking.

    Sadly Amazon aren't a partner, however you can see who are at

  21. Stuart johnson

    @US Only

    Clearly no-one researched this properly. As already suggested possible, the conditions for this scheme are that you are "A US citizen or legal resident". Unless I am mistaken I didnt see this referenced in the article or comments...

    Sucks to be the rest of the world! (So they get money back AND the right to call Cults Cults!)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Just as I thought..................

    US only. What a kop out. Everyone knows that only 10% of the US poulation have cash to spend and the other 90% are living in poverty. I knew us Brits would get right royally shafted on anything designed to save people money.

    These are the T's & C's from the website:

    "Who is eligible for Live Search cashback?

    You are as long as you:

    * Provide us with a valid email address and password for account access.

    * Are a U.S. citizen or legal resident, and at least 18 years of age.

    * Have a valid mailing address (a P.O. Box won't work).

    * Create or have an active Windows Live ID and cashback account.

    * Adhere to the Microsoft Service Agreement."

    I think the whole "phorm" comparrison is relevant here as well. Bill and co want to know what you eat for breakfast.

    Evil zenophobic Microsoft......

  23. Slaine
    Thumb Up

    I'd use it...

    but only if he's gonna pay 101% of the purchase price.

    Mmmmm, ferrari, bugatti...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    no title

    Sorry, wtf is everyone banging on about Phorm for? So they need a Live ID <gasp> in order that you can "log in" to your Cashback account - that sounds dodgy. Oooh, and you need to be a US Citizen over 18 <shock> - that MUST be dodgy. And look, you have to adhere to a service agreement!! That's just TOO much!!

    Long story short, it may be a slightly crass way of motivating people to use Live Search for making purchases - 'please, we'll pay you!' - but there's no reason why it shouldn't work. And inasmuch as it allows MS to focus on an area of strength in their search operations (product search) and an area of monetary value to advertisers (searches leading to purchase) it's a good way of shifting the goalposts in the search engine wars. At the moment it does look to be a loss-leader, trying to pull users in for the money in the hopes that they'll stick around for the other Live Search features (Celebrity xRank, anyone?), but then search habits are so difficult to shift at the user level that it could well be worth it in the long term

  25. Francis Irving
    Gates Halo

    Monopoly vs. Monopoly

    Seems fair to me...

    Google are undercutting Microsoft by giving away software at no cost (office software, removing the need for a specific operating system etc.) cross-subsidised from their monopoly (search).

    So why shouldn't Microsoft give away search cheaper than Google (i.e. negative cost), cross-subsidised from their monopoly (operating systems)?

    My only complaint is that Microsoft are being stingy and not giving enough cash back.

  26. Peyton

    Google did something similar

    I purchased an item on last Christmas. When I went to check out, I could pay with paypal at regular price, or google checkout and get $10 off. Guess which one I went with ;p

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems fair...

    Just research your product choice on Google, then do a search on Live for 'your exact product name' and take the discount...

  28. crayon
    Gates Horns

    @Welcome to the future

    "Methinks the crocodile has lost its teeth"

    They still have enough ill-gotten money in the bank to be a destructive force - the ramming of OXML into ISO, the derailing of the OLPC.

  29. Fuion
    Thumb Up

    OK to T's & C's.

    If Microsoft want to corner the Search Market, they need only Pay an Endless Fortune to those who can Provide Novel Content which is Endlessly Searched for, the Holiest of Holy Grails.

    I could care less if someone knows what I eat for breakfast.

    I am more concerned with the quality of my food :)

    And it would be quite nice to be able to have an actual place to get real mail at, as I am currently stuck with such a PO box because of my empty cc#

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