The Australian iTWire has a rather biased and misinformed article entitled Official: Microsoft ‘bribes’ companies to use Live Search which contains the following excerpt

Microsoft’s new program is called “Microsoft Service Credits for Web Search” and has been unveiled by John Batelle’s ‘SearchBlog’. The money on offer is significant, especially when multiplied across thousands of PCs. The deal means that companies can earn between US $2 and US $10 per computer on an annual basis, plus a US $25,000 “enrollment credit” which is a nice big wad of cash that will likely need a large-ish, strong and sturdy brown paper bag to hold securely while being passed under the table.  

For companies that have thousands of computers, this could translate into anywhere from US $100,000 to $200,000 per year, which is money that could be put to good use in the IT department or elsewhere in the company.
Former Microsoft employee and blogger Robert Scoble who served as the online face of Microsoft during his three years at the company is not impressed with Microsoft’s moves in deciding to offer companies money to use search.  His arguments are quite valid and boil down to Microsoft really needing to create better products, rather than needing to pay companies to get more traction for Windows Live. After all, Scoble isn’t the first to observe that Google doesn’t need to pay anyone to use its search services – people use them voluntarily because of the quality of the results

The amount of bias in this article is pretty amazing considering that Microsoft is primarily reacting to industry practices created by the Google [which have also been adopted by Yahoo!]. Let me count the ways Google bribes companies and individuals to use their search engine

  1. Google pays AdSense publishers for each user they convince to install Firefox with the Google Toolbar installed. Details are in the documentation for the AdSense Referrals Feature. Speculation on Slashdot was that they pay $1 per user who switches to Firefox + Google Toolbar.

  2. Google paid Dell $1 billion dollars to ensure that Google products are preinstalled in all the computers they sell and the default search engine/home page is set to Google. Details of this deal were even published in iTWire.

  3. Google paid Adobe an undisclosed amount to bundle Google Toolbar [which converts your default search engine in your browser to theirs] with all Adobe products.

  4. Google entered a distribution deal with Sun Microsystems to bundle Google Toolbar [which converts your default search engine in your browser to theirs] with all new installations of the Java runtime.

  5. Google products which converts your default search engine in your browser to theirs are bundled with the Winzip archiving utility. Financial details of the deal were undisclosed.

  6. Google is the default search engine for both the Opera and Firefox browsers. Both vendors get a cut of the search revenue generated from user searches which runs in the millions of dollars.

I could go on but my girlfriend just told me it's time for breakfast and I'm already in trouble for blogging on a Sunday morning. However the above links should be enough to debunk the inaccurate statements in the iTWire article. I guess iTWire's "journalism" is further validation of the saying that you should never let the facts get in the way of a good flame.