Another Way To Make Money Online; Courtesy Of Microsoft…

Photo by: A Fighting FaithNo, I’m not talking about the ol’ “Bill Gates will send you money if you forward this email” spoof.  I am talking about Microsoft’s Usability Research team.  Clearly Microsoft has a lot of new products that need testing, and it can’t all be done in house; they need a larger audience of NON-Microsoft employees.  That’s where we come in.  Before you jump off this post because you think it is a tag to get you to buy Microsoft stuff, don’t!  I went over to the corporate office in Redmond, WA last week, took 45 mins worth of testing a new Windows Mobile product, gave my opinion, and walked out the door with a copy of Microsoft Office 2007 (currently on Amazon for 399.99).

I have no reason to use the product, so it’s likely going to find a home on Ebay.  But that works out to $533.32 an hour!  How about them apples?  Well worth my 45 minutes to roll over basic questions and give your opinion.

“But Hank,  I don’t have an ounce of technical savvy blood in my body.  How can I make any money off it?”

Easy answer – they don’t always want the experts to give the opinions on their products.  They want the entire gamut of people to test out their products; not just experts.  Toss your name out there, you never know if you’re what they are looking for.  It takes about 5 minutes to sign up and tell them what you do.

“Ok Hank it DOES sound like a good idea, but I don’t live anywhere near Redmond, WA.”

Again, no problem.  A lot of their questions can come over the phone, or through a web interface to test out and poll on certain product aspects.  Sign up and you may be pleasantly surprised what they can call you on.

“Fair enough, I’ll sign up; but what about tax-wise?  They’ve given me a gift?  Don’t I have to pay it on taxes?”

They’ll put your name in their database and send you out a 1099 form if your gifts are over $1000 for the year.  Currently the most expensive piece of software I saw on the list was Microsoft Visio 2007 at 559.99.  You can get calls back for as many of the items that you can qualify for.  I signed up in December and got my first call last month, so I guess we’ll see how many times they call.  Yea, they tax you, but the tax is only on free money.  You’ll probably pay $100 of your $1000 to Uncle Sam, and that’s not too bad.

Yes, they’ve been dubbed “the Evil Empire,” but as frugal guy, I don’t care who is giving out the money, I’m happy (and so should you) to take the gratuity for a short stint of my time and quick returns like that.  This new found cash is likely headed into my Charles Schwab ROTH IRA before the April 15 deadline.

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  • I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Allen Taylor

  • Hmm, I wonder whether Apple has the same deal. I’m almost at my 10 year anniversary for not using Windows :O)

  • @Allen – thanks for stopping by! Glad you liked the site – welcome and I’ll swing by your side and take a gander! 🙂

    @ Early Retirement Extreme – That’s actually ANOTHER metric they like to hit on, Mac users – so I’d totally sign up!

  • This is really great, and to think I stumbled accross this site in a random search for something completely different. If you want I will give you the keywords I was searching it might help.

  • very informative post..thanks a ton