Microsoft is offering to pay corporations if they get their employees to use Live Search at work, the company confirmed on Friday.
"Currently, we are conducting a trial program through which Microsoft is providing service or training credits to a select number of enterprise customers based on the number of Web search queries conducted by their employees via Live Search," Windows Live spokeswoman Whitney Burk said in a statement. "These customers, in turn, are providing valuable feedback to Microsoft on the use of Web search in an enterprise environment. As search evolves into more of a productivity tool, and revenue sharing becomes more commonplace across the industry, we are engaging in mutually beneficial partnerships such as this and our recently announced deal with Lenovo to more easily enable customers to choose Live Search."
John Battelle's Searchblog first reported on the program--dubbed "Microsoft Service Credits for Web Search"--and provided more details. Microsoft is offering large enterprise customers free service and credits that can be redeemed for products and training if they push Live search inside their companies. Companies can get a $25,000 enrollment credit plus anywhere from $2 to $10 per computer annually, which can add up to a lot for companies with thousands of computers. In an example given on a Powerpoint presentation that Battelle partially republished, a company with 10,000 PCs and high Web searching could earn $120,000 and one with 50,000 PCs and medium Web searching could earn $200,000.
"This could work, but it could sure backfire," Battelle writes. "How would you feel if, to save a few bucks, the CIO and CFO dictate 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."
This isn't the first time Microsoft has offered to compensate people for using its search service. A year ago, the company offered prizes to consumers for using its search site.
Both Microsoft and Yahoo are struggling to gain ground in the market against juggernaut Google. Google has more than 50 percent search market share, compared with Yahoo's nearly 24 percent and Microsoft's more than 8 percent share, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.