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Microsoft is paying me to use Bing and it ain't half-bad

The closest you'll get to free money, but at what cost?

Published onFebruary 11, 2023

microsoft bing in edge
Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

While setting up a fresh copy of Windows 11 a few months ago, I neglected to install Google Chrome and got straight to installing other programs. Naturally, this meant using Microsoft defaults — the Edge web browser and Bing search engine. The last time I tried either of them, Internet Explorer was still alive and everyone hated Bing. But even though the latter hasn’t changed after all this time, I was surprised to find that Bing didn’t get in my way like I thought it would.

Still, I didn’t intend to stay loyal to Microsoft’s defaults; it was simply a temporary situation while I set up the rest of the computer. But that urgency to switch back to Chrome quickly left my mind when I stumbled upon Microsoft Rewards. The pitch is simple: keep using Bing every day and Microsoft will pay you real money for the trouble. So is it worth it? I switched to Bing full-time late last year to find out. And as I’ll explain in this article, the results are interesting, even if you set aside the financial incentive.

Get paid to use Microsoft Bing: Too good to be true?

bing microsoft rewards
Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

Once you sign up for Microsoft Rewards, you earn three points per Bing search. In the US, you can earn up to 270 points per day with 90 searches spread across desktop and mobile. That translates to 8,100 points if you reach the daily search limit for an entire month, which is worth around $10. That’s not a lot, but luckily, there’s more.

You can also complete a daily search set for an extra 40 points per day. Do that ten days in a row and you get 150 bonus points. Between these two, you can make an additional 1,600 points per month.

All in all, it’s theoretically possible to earn as much as 30,000 points Microsoft Rewards points per month if you complete every single activity and challenge. But some of these tasks can take a while, so I don’t bother with them. Who wants to play a specific Xbox game or participate in random trivia every day anyway? That said, I easily racked up a few thousand extra points simply by checking into the Bing smartphone app from time to time.

Microsoft Rewards offers enough of an incentive to use Bing, especially in the US.

Long story short, you can earn enough points in the US to redeem gift cards worth between $10 and $20 every month. You get more value out of your points if you exchange them for Microsoft services and gift cards, so that’s what I do. Some dedicated users have even collected hundreds of thousands of points over several months to redeem an entire Xbox Series S. Other redemption options include retail gift cards, charity donations, and sweepstakes entries.

Microsoft Rewards won’t make you rich overnight, but it offers decent rewards for practically no extra effort. And even though I live outside the US, the program pays out enough to keep me using Bing.

Would you consider switching to Bing?

3438 votes

But is Bing worth using?

Of course, no amount of compensation makes sense if Bing fails miserably as a search engine. But I’m happy to report that it holds up quite well in day-to-day usage, despite what you might have heard over the years.

Bing’s result pages don’t look too dissimilar from Google’s these days, especially for straightforward searches. Take a look at the following example. Both search engines pulled some information about the search term from Wikipedia. Bing even went one step further and offered up some blurbs from third-party sources on the side.

I also ran into a few instances where I preferred Bing over Google. For example, when you frame your query as a question, Bing will respond with a direct “Yes” or “No” and cite its sources. Google, meanwhile, will highlight a single answer at the top of the page and leave you to interpret the result. I would hope it corroborates this information with other sources, but Google doesn’t reveal this information.

That said, Bing’s extra bit of helpfulness can sometimes backfire, like when it incorrectly classified BlackBerry phones as a “fruit.” Another time, it chose to highlight “radiation risks” in a search related to GSM cellular technology but clicking on the excerpt didn’t lead me to a well-researched source. It’s easy to see how these simplified blurbs of text on the results page could fuel dangerous urban myths. Remember the 5G rumors from a few years ago?

Confidently incorrect: The problem with Bing and Google

If you’re thinking Google wouldn’t throw up inaccurate results, think again. I came across quite a few scenarios where I expected Google to do better than Bing, only to be disappointed with both. Here’s one such instance: I entered one of the most common Pixel 7-related search queries into both search engines.

When asked if the phone’s box includes a charger, Bing incorrectly responded with a “Yes” and cited two sources supposedly backing up that response. However, both of those were in reference to Google’s 30W USB-C power adapter, which as we know, is sold separately.

It’s tempting to write off Bing based on this simple error. But when I typed the same search query into Google, it suggestively put “Power adapter (18W)” at the top of the page. Like Bing, Google misinterpreted its source (an official Pixel support page) and wrongfully stated that the Pixel 7 ships with a charger.

If you look past the first result, both Bing and Google accurately point out that you don’t get a charger with the Pixel 7. And when you replace the verb in the query, it’s a toss-up as to which search engine gets the right answer. For example, simply changing “come” to “ship” in the query makes Bing more accurate than Google.

Once again, incorrect (and official-sounding) responses can be a big problem, especially when you consider that Microsoft is integrating ChatGPT into Bing. It’s entirely possible that the minor errors and mistakes we see from Bing and Google today will not go away, but instead, be amplified by a human-sounding chatbot. Google’s rival chatbot Bard already made a factual error in its first-ever official demo — definitely not a good sign.

Bing and Google already make plenty of mistakes, but ChatGPT and Bard could make them sound dangerously legitimate.

Overall, though, comparing search engines led me to an important realization: When Google gets something wrong, I don’t think twice about it and might even blame myself for being too ambiguous with my query. But when Bing fails in the exact same manner, my mind treats it as a “Gotcha!” moment — almost as if a single error validates the years of criticism associated with it. Seeing both search engines fail so spectacularly helped me finally realize that the technology is imperfect and you should always read below the fold.

The illusion of choice: There’s no third option

Duckduckgo private search engines

If you could use any search engine besides Google, which one would you pick? You have a number of options, from the privacy-focused DuckDuckGo to the tree-planting Ecosia, but I’ve found that all roads lead back to Microsoft.

Ecosia plainly states that it relies on Bing for its search results and advertisements. DuckDuckGo, meanwhile, claims to combine results from Bing and other non-Google indexers like Wikipedia and Yahoo. But that means very little now that Yahoo Search also uses Bing under the hood. You still get the privacy benefits, but the quality of results is the same as using Bing.

Bing provides results to many alternative search engines, including DuckDuckGo.

I’ve tried many search engines in the past, but I always ended up returning to Google for its media-rich results. Some may very well find the opposite appealing — DuckDuckGo’s no-nonsense interface in particular reminds me of the days before Google introduced its Knowledge Graph.

But right now, if you’re impatient like me and just want a quick blurb of information, Google and Bing undoubtedly have the upper hand. And if I have to pick between two faceless giants, my vote goes to the one that pays me.

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