Microsoft Resorts to Paying People to Use Windows Live Search Engine

Itis no secret that Microsoft has been struggling to get folks to use its Windows Live Search search engine, but Big Redmond is now ready to go so far as to pay people to do so. The company announced Wednesday that it will offer users a rebate if theyill just buy merchandise being advertised on search results pages.

The company made the announcement at advance08, an annual advertising event the company holds for its clients. Companies participating in the cash rebate program include eBay, Barnes &,, Sears,, and WPP, and executives from these companies joined Chairman Bill Gates on stage to announce it.

All told, there are some 700 companies participating, and Microsoft said this includes 13 of the top 40 retailers. Users who sign up for the program will reportedly have access to some 10 million products.

The new program comes as Microsoft has heretofore been unable to entice Yahoo! into agreeing to be bought, another one of the companyis solutions to the problem of being a distant third to Yahoo! and Google. With Google, in particular, seeing enormous success from its own search-related AdWords, Microsoft is hoping that if they pay people, some might be willing to use Windows Live Search.

The program has been dubbed Windows Live Search cashback, and it works as follows: Merchants pay Microsoft when users who have signed up for the program complete a transaction (i.e. buy something) through Windows Live Search. That fee is percentage based, and Microsoft will directly rebate that fee back to the user. The company did not offer the details on what those percentages are.