Is Microsoft Corp so desperate as to grab a slice of Google's advertising pie as to pay newspapers to avoid Google? Seems unlikely, but some reports suggest that it might be true. They say Microsoft wants to undercut Google so badly in internet search that it might pay newspapers to withhold their content from Google.
The unorthodox strategy faces stumbling blocks, starting with this one: Microsoft is unlikely to fund a Google boycott, according to three people familiar with Microsoft's discussions with a variety of publishers. These people spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the talks are still in early stages.
But people also told the Financial Times and other newspapers that News Corp, the owner of The Wall Street Journal, is discussing a plan that would block Google from indexing its content in return for an unspecified payment from Microsoft.
The sources in the conflicting reports agree on one point: Microsoft is in talks with a wide range of media outlets, including AP, about ways that its search engine Bing might be able to showcase stories, photos and videos in a way that distinguishes it from Google.
The discussions could result in new revenue-sharing agreements or other payments, but they wouldn't necessarily require News Corp or other publishers to shun Google.
In theory, getting news organisations to block Google from including links to their content might give Microsoft a slight edge over its nemesis.