If you’re the type of person always looking for deals via accruing loyalty program points from a business, then you likely already know about Microsoft Rewards. Available to everyone with a Microsoft Account (required for everyone with a personal Outlook email address or Xbox game console), Microsoft Rewards is the company’s brand loyalty-building system that awards points by interacting with Microsoft digital consumer services. These digital Microsoft Rewards can then be traded in for a variety of physical items such as gift cards to Amazon, Domino’s Pizza, and Starbucks along with the ability to make monetary donations to an impressive array of non-profit charities. Microsoft Rewards are accumulated in a number of ways, but most users gain points by conducting internet searches using Microsoft Bing. I won’t mention his name, but one of Amaxra’s consultants is such a fan of the Microsoft Rewards program that once when asked to go to a specific website address, he typed in the name of the website into Bing because he “wanted to get the rewards points for the search.”
That is not an exaggeration—he actually opened his web browser, went to Bing, and typed the website name into the Bing search bar rather than just going directly to the website address. While it was a little frustrating then, our Microsoft Rewards-loving consultant now appears to be ahead of his time. In May 2021, Microsoft is adding the ability to earn Microsoft Rewards points for searching using Microsoft Search with a work and school account.
The difference between Microsoft Search and Bing
Microsoft Search is the cloud-powered search engine integrated into Microsoft 365 For Business solutions. Behind the scenes, Microsoft is leveraging the same technology for both the business-oriented Microsoft Search engine and the consumer-oriented Bing search. For obvious security and data privacy reasons, the two search engines are fully separate software tools. But those tools were created by the same corporate parent, Microsoft. A human analogy would be that Microsoft Search and Bing are cousins; their underlying development and operational infrastructure share some DNA, but they are separate branches of a common family tree.
Amaxra consultants noticed in early April 2021 a new feature in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center called “Link Microsoft Azure Active Directory with Rewards.” According to the official product feature roadmap for Microsoft 365, the official launch date for this May 10, 2021 but as a Gold-level Microsoft Partner and early adopter of solutions such as Microsoft Teams, Amaxra often receives early access to nascent features prior to general public availability. IT administrators can toggle this feature on by logging into the Microsoft 365 Admin Center and navigating to Organization Settings > Microsoft Rewards > Allow users to connect their Azure AD and Microsoft Rewards Accounts. Toggling this feature to the “on” position enables employees with personal Microsoft Accounts to earn Microsoft Rewards points in connection with their work searches.
What to expect from earning Microsoft Rewards at work
During our test of this feature, Amaxra consultants noticed that linking a workplace Azure Active Directory account to a personal Microsoft Account was basically instantaneous. The ease of linking these accounts makes for an excellent user experience, but it also means that unless a user opts out, their personal Microsoft Account will be associated with their workplace Azure Active Directory account. From a cyber-security standpoint, IT administrators should remember this link is in place in case an employee leaves the organization.
Amaxra consultants recommend that IT administrators and HR should work together when rolling out this option to employees. Make employees aware of how personal and workplace accounts will be blended and how to opt out of the program if they choose. Some employees will welcome the opportunity to earn Microsoft Rewards for searches at work, but some might view it as a potential invasion of privacy. It’s good policy when considering making this feature available to your organization to show empathy for employees and enable them to make informed choices.
For more than a decade, Amaxra has been at the forefront of deploying Microsoft solutions to businesses of all sizes. Our founders and many of our consultants are former Microsoft employees, so we know all about how the latest solutions can help your employees stay connected, productive, and secure—no matter where they work.
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