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.