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Microsoft goes green to win IE 8 and Bing users

Revives failed 'facts' thinking

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The planet and economy have been co-opted by Microsoft in its latest effort to win back the web from open-source and Google.

Microsoft has announced a $10,000 prize for developers that build what it calls "economy or ecology" themed web applications in its Will Code for Green challenge.

All applications must consume Bing and conform to the Bing APis, Microsoft has said. You can read the fine print here.

Developers must say how their application will either help people deal with the worsening global economy or help to improve the ecology of the planet. Winners will be selected at Gnomedex in August.

The green and "aware" web apps campaign mirrors a similar charitable attempt to boost adoption of Internet Explorer 8, released in March.

Microsoft's Browser for the Better campaign, unveiled earlier this month, will see the software giant donate to a network of US food banks the financial equivalent of eight meals for every completed download of IE 8. The campaign runs until August 8

Behind every philanthropic effort lies cash, and Microsoft's charity underscores an emerging strategy of buying developers and end-users back from Google, Firefox, and Safari.

Microsoft launched its Live Search cashback program in May 2008, giving up to 35 per cent back to online shoppers who made purchases via Bing's predecessor. Now it's known as Bing cashback, with Microsoft offering up to 25 per cent back through a list of retailers, here.

Last week, Microsoft Australia unveiled a $10,0000 inducement for end-users to dump Firefox for IE8. The $10,000 comes in the form of an online prize that you can only find, according to Microsoft, by uncovering clues optimized to the latest version of Microsoft's browser.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has returned to a controversial set of tactics that it abandoned six years ago for lacking credibility. Microsoft last week published a feature chart comparing IE 8, Firefox, and Chrome, calling it called Windows Internet Explorer 8: Get the facts.

Microsoft last used the "get the facts" tag on an anti-Linux site it killed in 2003, before replacing the site with a Windows Server "compare" site. It was a tag line Microsoft's told us recently it didn't find constructive in its dealings with the open-source community.

That message doesn't seem to have reached IE's marketing team. Or if it did, the team simply didn't care.

According to Microsoft, the "facts" show IE 8 beats Firefox 3.0 and Chrome 2.0 in a number of areas and features. But some are things only Microsoft could have won because they are Microsoft-specific - such as InPrivate Browsing, Accelerators, and Web Slices.

In other categories, Microsoft has made IE 8 claims so broad that they're meaningless. These include the notions that IE 8 has the "most comprehensive developer tools built in" and that "neither Firefox nor Chrome provide guidance or enterprise tools." ®

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