Microsoft Details New Rewards Program, Wants to Track Browser Usage

Posted on September 12, 2016 by Brad Sams in Microsoft Consumer Services with 0 Comments

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Microsoft recently announced that they would be making changes to the Bing Rewards program; the company is changing the name, and how it operates, to Microsoft Rewards and we are now learning new details about the service.

There is a new account dashboard, that you can view here (if logged in) that shows you all the ways you can earn points for the program. Everything from browsing with Edge to shopping in the Microsoft store and app stores will earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards for Xbox Live or third-party vendors like Starbucks and Amazon.

But, one of the new ways that Microsoft is offering reward points is by tracking your usage of Edge. The company’s new browser stumbled out of the gate when it was launched last year by missing crucial features like extension support and now Microsoft is trying to use its new rewards program to get you to use the browser more frequently.

chrome_2016-09-12_17-59-35The company is offering up to 150 points a month if you opt into the program (it is opt-in, an important distinction) for allowing Microsoft to monitor your usage. Microsoft says that for every hour of activity, you will earn points, up to 30 hours a month.

The company defines active browsing as using the browser to surf the web but the kicker here is that Bing has to be set as your default search engine too. For those of you who use Google, you will not be able to earn points using this part of the rewards program. Importantly, Microsoft says that the ‘browse and earn’ program “collects the total time spent actively browsing on Microsoft Edge in order to credit your account” but that it does not track “which websites you visit or sell your information to third parties.”

Considering that there are many users out there who still believe that Microsoft is collecting a significant amount of data about the user that serves no purpose other than to track habits to hand over to advertisers/governments or similar, the idea of tracking your browsing habits will not go over well. Further, the fact that Microsoft can individually track how often you use an application will likely feed into those theories that the company is monitoring its users too closely.

You can learn more about Microsoft’s new program here and if you are not bothered by the data collection aspects of the program, this looks like an easy way to rack up points towards free gift cards.

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