Microsoft to Pay Business for Using Live Search

If you can't get people to use your product for free, you can always pay them to.

Microsoft is now offering to pay businesses through service or training credits if they get their employees to use its Live Search product at work. The amount of the payment would be based on the number of search queries served.

While many may view this as a sign of desperation from a company whose search share badly lags behind that of competitors Google and Yahoo, Microsoft is attempting to spin it in a different way.

Currently Google serves about half of all search queries, followed by Yahoo that serves about 24 percent. Microsoft has around an 8 percent search share, Neilsen//NetRatings reports.

The company claims that feedback gained from the program would be used to improve Live Search for enterprise use. However, at the same time the program could raise the company's search share, thus allowing the company to sell more advertising and highlight its other related products.

Furthermore, there is a good chance that if employees become accustomed to using Live Search at work, those habits would carry over to their home use of search engines.

Upon registration, a company would receive a $25,000 credit, and then would be eligible for up to $10 per computer annually for Live Search usage. Companies would also be required to mandate that their users use IE7 while at work.

This could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings for companies with thousands of computers, who traditionally may spend millions on Microsoft products.

"This could work, but it could sure backfire," John Battle of Searchblog wrote Thursday after being alerted to the program.

"How would you feel if, to save a few bucks, the CIO and CFO dictates that you now have to use IE7 preset to Live Search? I can imagine a backlash where usage of Firefox goes way up in large corporations so as to avoid that "Browser Helper Object" installed in IE 7," he continued.

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