Win Bill Gates' money!
Are you up for the SearchPerks Challenge? Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is so sure that it can get you to switch to its fledgling Live.com search engine that it's rewarding frequent searchers with free prizes such as T-shirts, Xbox games, and digital downloads.

It's easy to see why Microsoft would open up its coffers. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has become the undisputed champ of online advertising, directly as a result of its 63% share of the domestic search-engine market (according to comScore). Microsoft is a distant third with an 8% piece, trailing Yahoo!'s (NASDAQ:YHOO) slice of roughly 20%.

The promotion runs through mid-April, open to the first million registrants at GetSearchPerks.com who agree to install a search-engine tracker. The first 25 daily searches through Live.com will earn points that can be exchanged for prizes.

This is certainly not the way that Microsoft wanted to go about attaining paid-search leadership. However, Google has gotten so big that drastic measures may be Big Softy's best chance to catch up.

Briefly in the news
And now, let's look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • Is there anything Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) isn't streaming these days? The DVD-rental giant brokered a deal with Starz to have a chunk of the cable-channel giant's movies available through its Web-streaming service.
  • GameStop (NYSE:GME) wants to be the champ of the Champs-Elysees. The video-game retailer is buying Micromania, a diehard gamer magnet in France. GameStop has hundreds of stores in Europe, but this is the company's first foray into France.
  • Chinese search-engine leader Baidu.com (NASDAQ:BIDU) is making a tactical move in legal online video content, combining its movie-streaming channel with market leader UiTV. Yes, there are Internet niches where Baidu is not the top dog, and it's apparently humble enough to partner with the winners when it makes sense.

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Google and Baidu.com are Motley Fool Rule Breakers picks. GameStop and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz recommends windshield wiper fluid when trying to look back. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, save for Netflix. The Fool has a disclosure policy.