Microsoft paying dearly to acquire Live Search traffic Valleywag just got forwarded an email outlining Microsoft's latest desperation move in its money-losing effort to catch up with Google in search. Through Florida online marketing company Kowabunga, Microsoft is willing to pay $2.50 per toolbar download to Web publishers who push the search software on users through the month of September, and $1.50 after that. Microsoft has already offered to bribe users through cashback deals on purchases made from advertisements on Live Search . It has signed a deal with Hewlett-Packard to have its Live Search toolbar preinstalled in browsers on new machines shipped by the computer manufacturer. On top of that, Microsoft is probably also paying Kowabunga a finder's fee for each publisher it signs up through the affiliate program. To review: It's paying consumers to use its search. It's paying PC makers to install software that encourages consumers to use its search. And it's paying an agency to sign up publishers to encourage users to download software that encourages them to use its search. Why not spend that cash on building a competitive product? That seems easier. The cold-call pitch from Kowabunga on Microsoft's behalf:Microsoft paying dearly to acquire Live Search traffic