Since May Microsoft has been reimbursing people up to half of the value of items they buy using its search technology. The gimmick isn't working. In July Google's share of all searches jumped to 60% from 53% a year ago, while Microsoft's share slumped to 12% from 13.6%, according to Nielsen Online.
Now comes Chief Executive Steve Ballmer's latest would-be Google-toppling tactic (after his failed bid to take over Yahoo) a sneak attack using the newly launched version of Microsoft's dominant Web browser, Internet Explorer. Ballmer isn't portraying the updated browser as a Google destroyer, but many of its features turn out to be a crafty way for people to get around using the most popular search service.