These are early days, but a new e-commerce model may emerge as Microsoft launches its Cash Back program. Those who use Microsoft's Live Search to find retailers and shop with them will find a portion --- pretty small, but a portion --- of their spend in turn tucked away in a PayPal account. Once the account reaches five dollars, it's possible to redeem.
All along many have speculated that some sort of micropayment program would be the catalyst for e-commerce. Amazon and others already have associates programs to encourage sites to direct traffic and business their way, but outgoing CEO Bill Gates is suggesting Microsoft's effort may help shape a new model for both advertising and shopping. Clearly this program can more accurately track the relationship between user attention and user consumption and charge advertisers more precisely on the basis of what's purchased and not just what's viewed.
In any event, it's a plan that occupies attention as Microsoft figures out what to do --- or not --- with Yahoo! Incoming Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has indicated there's no longer interest in buying Yahoo!, but won't discuss possible deals for parts of the company.