Since 2010, Microsoft has run the Bing Rewards program: Just do your searches with Microsoft’s Bing search engine, and you can earn points towards Starbucks and Amazon gift cards, Hulu subscriptions, and other such prizes.
Now, Microsoft is rebranding the program to Microsoft Rewards. And instead of just Bing, Microsoft wants to reward you for using Microsoft Edge – the web browser that comes with Windows 10, and the successor to Internet Explorer.
So long as you’re actively using Microsoft Edge – defined as having the Edge window open and actually using it to browse the web, not just having it open in the background – you’ll accrue points that can be redeemed for prizes, up to 30 hours’ worth a month.
While Windows 10 is on over 350 million active devices, the Edge browser hasn’t quite made the splash that Microsoft had hoped for. Current numbers place Edge usage at just over 4.2% of the overall browser market. So now, Microsoft wants to give users a little extra incentive.
There’s one big caveat here, too. Despite the rebranding, you need to use Microsoft Bing as your default search engine in order to reap the Microsoft Rewards points. If you change your default to Google, Yahoo, or any other search engine, your points simply won’t accrue. If you want points, you need Bing.
Finally, Microsoft says that they’re only tracking when Edge is open, and not what websites you’re visiting or any data you’re entering. And Microsoft Rewards will ask before it starts tracking Edge usage, so it won’t activate without your express permission.
If that’s still too much information for you, especially in light of past Windows 10 privacy scandals, well, you can carry on browsing the way you’ve been browsing. But Microsoft’s ambition to make Edge into a major market force could make it a lot easier for you to line your pockets. Besides, Microsoft Edge may just be the best way to watch Netflix on a laptop.