Microsoft is dangling prizes made by arch-nemesis Apple to entice Australian web surfers to give its online search products a second chance.
Through its local joint venture with the Nine Network, ninemsn, Microsoft recently completed a full revamp of Live Search to improve results and integrate video, images, news and maps into search queries.
But in what is perhaps a sign of desperation given Google's growing market share dominance, ninemsn is running a new Live Search promotion - Secret Search - offering surfers the chance to win prizes including the iPod Nano, Shuffle and Touch just for conducting searches.
A Microsoft source said using competitor products was frowned on at Microsoft and the company was offering large discounts on Windows Mobile-based smartphones to dissuade staff from buying iPhones.
At ninemsn, staff are forbidden from using Google search.
At the entrance to Microsoft's Zune headquarters in the US there is an "iPod Amnesty Bin" for staff to throw away their iPods. The words "bite me" are plastered across the bin below a picture of an Apple with bites taken out of it.
Ninemsn's head of Live Search, Alex Parsons, said if the Zune music player was sold in Australia it would have been offered as a prize instead.