A loyal reader sent me this tidbit: Microsoft is offering its large enterprise customers free service and product credits if those customers push Live search inside their enterprises. Called “Microsoft Service Credits for Web Search,” a Powerpoint overview of the program sent to me states:
“Employees search the web daily with tools from Google, Microsoft, or Yahoo. OEMs and web sites are already earning credits based on searches that their users bring. Now, your organization can earn credits for Microsoft web searches and redeem them for Microsoft or preferred partner deployment and training services. More searches earns more credits towards the services you value.”
The value is non-trivial – the presentation estimates companies can get from $2 to $10 per computer annually, plus a $25K “enrollment credit”. For sites that have tens of thousands of computers, that can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in free stuff from Microsoft. Most large enterprises spend millions on Microsoft services and software each year. It’s not hard to imagine a CFO getting slightly moist over savings like these.
In short, Microsoft is leveraging its massive installed base – and its cash – to push search. It’s not a bad idea, though there are possible drawbacks. The presentation goes into detail about how a large company might promote this program to its employees, suggesting three levels of communication – “low, moderate, and high.” Moderate and high promotions include “In-house training session on ‘how to get the most from web search’ using Windows Live Search,” “Remove all existing toolbars,” “Set Homepage to Live Search,” and “Email message of encouragement from CEO.” IE 7 is mandatory for the program, as one might expect.
Interesting. This could work, but it could sure backfire. 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….