Microsoft would really love if you’d stop by one of its stores for a spell, but in case you aren’t inclined to offer that courtesy out of the kindness of your heart, the company’s working on a program with rewards you can put toward future purchases at its brick-and-mortar locations.
Earn, as it’s called, is currently being piloted in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Washington. It’s a points-based system that rewards you for shopping at places you might anyway — Starbucks, Whole Foods, 7 Eleven, Petsmart, Papa John’s, 1-800-Flowers.com, and “hundreds” of participating local restaurants. Purchases are tracked automatically (you provide Microsoft with your debit and credit card numbers at enrollment time) and you receive 5 to 10 percent in “Earn Credits” for clearing certain spending thresholds. Those points can then be spent, of course, at your local Microsoft Store on software, a new computer, or any other gadget that catches your fancy.
Retail rewards may sound like an odd product category for software maker Microsoft, but it’s not the company’s first rodeo in the space. The Xbox Live Diamond program debuted in 2006 as a free benefit to members of the Xbox Live, granting members exclusive discounts at restaurants, local chains, movie theaters, and a handful of internet retailers. Microsoft began charging cardholders an annual $7 fee before closing the program to new enrollees.
The demise of Xbox Live Diamond may not instill much confidence, but Microsoft appears dedicated to the premise of Earn. “[It’s] part of our commitment to delivering outstanding, choice, value, and service,” a spokesperson told VentureBeat. The company’s remaining mum on the subject of a wider rollout, but those residing in the principal states can opt in at earnbymicrosoft.com. Here’s hoping Earn longs lasts long enough for the rest of us to take advantage.