Microsoft is offering web users the chance to get their hands on $1m worth of prizes in return for using its MSN Search website.
In what seems like a frantic bid to get users to switch from arch-rival Google, the software giant has launched a three-month promotion around MSNSearchandWin.
"We are hopeful that once people give it a shot they will want to come back again and again," said Lisa Gurry, director of marketing at MSN Search.
According to Nielsen//NetRatings, MSN's search engine ranks third behind Google and Yahoo. MSN had 10.9 per cent of web searches in December 2005, down from 14 per cent in December 2004.
The business model of using incentives to attract web searchers is not new. For one Google-partnered site, Blingo.com, giving away prizes to web search users is the entire business structure.
Blingo receives revenue from Google for referring web search users to its results. The company takes some of that revenue and dispenses prizes to users who access Google via the site.
Blingo chief executive Frank Anderson claimed that the site has tens of thousands of users. "It's the same business as Google has; we're just using incentives to get people to use our site," he said.