Microsoft’s Sad New Search Incentive

Months after starting a briberypromotion to get people to use its search engine, Microsoft is looking to lure users in with more shiny prizes.

A newly launched program, SearchPerks, gives you frequent flyer-style points for every Live search you perform (up to 25 per day). You download and install a program, which tracks your searches and tallies your total. Then, next spring, you can redeem your points for any number of exciting prizes.

Oh yeah, and you can only do it if you’re using Internet Explorer. (Pure coincidence, we’re sure.)

The move reeks even more of desperation than the company’s CashBack deal back in May. But even that approach — which basically amounted to paying people to use the search engine — didn’t seem to work: Microsoft’s Live Search has lost users since the start of ’08, dropping about 1.5 percent in its share of the search engine market.

(Google, for what it’s worth, gained users in the latest ComScore analysis. It’s now at about 63 percent of the total search engine market. And it’s not even paying people or giving out prizes. Go figure.)

Microsoft’s already on its knees and begging. So what’s next? There’s only one logical step.

You heard it here first.

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