It’s been in the news that Microsoft is pushing “rewards programs” for people to use Live Search and the Live Toolbar. But did you know they’re trying to get your local IT department to do it for you?
Yep, the program’s called the “Search@Work Rewards Program”. If your IT department puts IE, with Live Search as the default search, and the Live Toolbar installed, and some kind of tracker plugin called the “Search Rewards Client,” on your company PCs, then they get Microsoft service credits! Yay. I can only assume my ISP is next.
Here’s the exact service description from Microsoft. Note that they’re tracking Yahoo and Google ad impressions too! The rest of it’s “fair enough” at least by usual IT industry standards but that’s kinda shady I think.
Microsoft is committed to innovation in both the business and technology of search. Today the search business is built on a model in which the provider realizes all the economic value. We believe in a different model, one that we’ve successfully pioneered with consumers, in which the searcher shares in the value they create. The Live Search team is excited to introduce a new program that recognizes and rewards business customers for using Live.com called the Search@Work Rewards Program.
What is the offer?
In return for making a non-exclusive commitment to use Live.com for web search, Microsoft rewards you with $2 of service credits per deployed PC, with the potential to earn additional service credit. All we ask in return is that you do three things on enrolled PCs:
1) Set Live.com as the default provider and maintain that setting in IE
2) Install the Windows Live Toolbar and maintain the toolbar as visible in IE
3) Install a browser helper object, called the Search Rewards Client, which gathers and reports query volume so Microsoft can accurately measure and assign rewards
What can the service credits be used for and how can I access them?
Credits can be used for any mutually agreed offering such as deployment services, architecture planning, training classes, adCenter credits, etc… You can use MCS, Premier or any 3rd party provider subject to reasonable approval. Credits are redeemed by working with your account team to determine how to best meet your needs and then your account team and the Search@Work team will process your request.
Can my employees still use other search providers?
Absolutely, users are free to visit, and use, the search engine of their choice.
What is the Windows Live Toolbar?
The Windows Live Toolbar is a IE toolbar designed to allow the user to save time and browse the Web more safely. It is deployed on millions of machines worldwide. You can read more information about the toolbar at http://get.live.com/toolbar/overview.
What is the Search Rewards Client?
The Search Rewards Client (SRC) is a DLL module designed as a plug-in for Internet Explorer to provide added functionality. It is also referred to as a Browser Helper Object, or BHO for short. We use this technology to gather and report data about web search. Some additional information on the SRC is provided in the table below
Deployment & Uninstall
• The SRC is installed with a small MSI installer, and can be deployed simply through Group Policy (GP), Microsoft System Management Services (SMS) or any other standard enterprise software deployment system.
Data Tracked & Retention Policy
• Tracked data includes the number of Microsoft, Google and Yahoo search queries conducted per end-user PC per day (web, images, news), and other PC configuration data (i.e., browser language & version, OS version, PC ID, Org ID, time)
• Number of Microsoft, Google and Yahoo advertisement clicks per end-user PC per day
• SRC also ensures that the Live Search servers can identify searches from your enterprise by persisting a session cookie for all Internet Explorer originating searches
• Per our Privacy Principles for Live Search and Online Ad Targeting, we will “anonymize all Live Search query data after 18 months.”
Upload Frequency & Size
• Data will be uploaded to Microsoft daily & logged at query time via the session cookie. The daily report will be between 1-1.5 KB and when sending the daily report we download a ~12KB signed file.
• In addition a 45 bytes “cookie crumb” is appended to each Live/MSN page request.
• Data will be uploaded and reside on 3rd party server under Microsoft contract
• Microsoft will be responsible for all data collection, requiring little to no support
• Collected data will be time-stamped in weblog format with unique ID for your organization and per PC