Microsoft affiliate program review 2020

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide where to plant your affiliate flag.

After all, there are so many affiliate programs out there, spread across dozens of affiliate networks.

Too many choices make it easy to fall prey to a serious case of paralysis by analysis.

But where many affiliates trip themselves up is looking for ultra-niche programs to promote…completely overlooking the big brands.

Being a Microsoft affiliate is a perfect example of something many affiliates won’t have even considered.

And they’re not sure why.

So we decided to take a deep dive and do a thorough Microsoft affiliate program review for you.

Let’s see what we found.

Microsoft

Microsoft Homepage Screenshot

Microsoft has been around since long before home computers were a thing.

So, although the company was founded in 1980, Bill Gates and Paul Allen had been tinkering with (and selling) computers and software since 1972.

The company was a small scale operation until they landed a contract with IBM to create an operating system for the soon-to-be-released IBM PC.

But instead of actually developing their own product, Gates and Allen instead bought an OS from a local Seattle software developer.

And now 40 years later Bill Gates is the richest man in the world.

Which is pretty much the best example of thinking outside the box in modern history.

The other one was whoever invented sliced bread.

Since then Microsoft has grown to be a giant in both software and hardware products, particularly in the consumer market.

This includes hardware and software, apps, games, and productivity tools.

So let’s take a look at the types of products you’ll be able to earn money from as a Microsoft affiliate.

What Products Can You Promote?

Before we get to what you can make money with, it’s just as important to cover off the products that Microsoft does not pay commission on.

It’s actually a pretty long list, but here are the main products or services to watch out for:

  • Windows
  • Microsoft Band
  • Windows Mixed VR
  • Microsoft Visual Studio
  • Xbox Game Pass trials
  • Microsoft 365 trials

It’s a real pain in the ass not to be able to promote their flagship Windows products as a Microsoft affiliate, for example.

But then again, you could always fall back on Amazon because they’re still willing to pay you 2.5% commission on sales of Windows software products.

Note: We discuss the above idea in more detail later on.

So now that we’ve gotten the bad news out of the way, let’s look at all the Microsoft goodies you can sell:

  • Xbox console, games and accessories
  • Xbox Game Pass
  • Surface tablets and accessories
  • Movies and TV shows from the Windows store
  • eBooks
  • Office 365 subscriptions
  • All apps from the Microsoft store
  • Computers (desktops and laptops)
  • Computer hardware and peripherals

So if your audience likes gaming PCS the Microsoft site has at least one for them:

Microsoft Products

Or maybe they just want an Office 365 subscription for their entire family, plus the 1TB of free cloud storage they get as part of that:

Microsoft Subscription Pricing

And then there are the people who just want the social clout of owning something like the Surface Studio 2.

Microsoft Surface Studio

People like me, for example.  

What we’re getting at is that the Microsoft affiliate program has a product to fit most niche sites that revolve around electronics, smartphones, business, or even home lifestyle products.

And you won’t have to do much pre-selling here – everyone on this planet knows who Microsoft is.

How does the Microsoft affiliate program work?

You can sign up for this affiliate program via a number of different networks.

The Rakuten Advertising affiliate network appears to be their primary affiliate marketing partner internationally.

Rakuten also seems to be in the early days of finally upgrading their affiliate portal/dashboard.

Yay!

Tradedoubler is another option for signing up for this program if you’re an affiliate based in the UK or Ireland.

And then finally, FlexOffers provides you with a way to become a Microsoft affiliate, but you’ll make money based on a reduced commission rate. This is because you’ll be a sub-affiliate via FlexOffers.

Signing up for any of the above affiliate networks will require your name, email address, and some basic business info.

As with the affiliate program for any big brand, your site will need to be family-friendly, accessible, free of hate speech, minus pornography, etc., etc.

Basically, if you’d be ashamed to show your website to your mother then the Microsoft affiliate program manager will probably feel the same way when they review your application.

With that said, just make sure you apply to the correction version of the program – they have separate programs for the US, Canada, Asia/Pacific (APAC), Latin America, New Zealand, and Australia.

So…once you’re approved, let’s review what you can earn as a Microsoft program affiliate.

Microsoft Commission Structure

As is the case with most big affiliate programs, Microsoft pays different commission rates on different products sold through affiliate links.

And that can make things really confusing.

One flat commission rate across the board would obviously be far better for you in terms of both managing offers and predicting your income.

Like a flat 10% commission rate.

But that’s not what’s on offer here.

So here’s my attempt at making Microsoft’s multiple commission rates that bit easier to understand:

Microsoft Commission Rates

The highest commission rates are paid to affiliates promoting their Xbox games, movies, and TV episodes through their affiliate links.

That was an unexpected finding, but it allows you to focus your attention where it belongs…and not where your gut instinct might bring you.

The next best commission rate is for what they refer to as ‘Other Office Products’.

This simply means purchases of Microsoft Office products that are not available via subscription – basically any “Office” software that is not Office 365.

So that’s worth knowing because this program also has a list of products where you get paid a fixed amount per lead. 

Fortunately, this is far less confusing:

  • Office 365 monthly subscription – $5
  • Office 365 annual subscription – $10
  • Xbox Game Pass (PC) – $1.30
  • Xbox Game Pass Ultimate – $1.50

But the nuance here is that an Office 365 subscription will only put $5 in your pocket whereas a “boxed” version of Office will probably earn you 5x as much.

So you can go with items that earn money based on a percentage affiliate commission, or just focus on the CPA offers instead.

And remember, because this is not the Amazon Associates program there are a number of ways for you to promote this affiliate program – blog, YouTube, or even social media.

If the listed commission rates look on the low side of things in comparison to say VPN affiliate programs, well…they are.

But they’re also pretty standard in terms of what’s offered by other programs in this niche.

A big company typically means big overheads and usually pretty thin margins to offer its affiliates. 

Or that’s what they tell us. 

Microsoft Affiliate Program Reviews

Now, this part of the research was really interesting.

Why?

Because it’s usually really easy to find tons of affiliates bitching about a given affiliate marketing program.

That’s par for the course in blogging – affiliate programs take a hammering.

All that’s usually left is sifting through them to find the most outrageous ones.

But that wasn’t the case with the Microsoft affiliate program.

And believe me, I spent hours scanning forums and other popular rage outlets for any outpourings of anger because Microsoft didn’t pay somebody, or kicked somebody out of the program for no reason.

Every search resulted in the same outcome for me – no negative feedback.

Here’s one of the very few examples I found online, comparing Microsoft’s program to Amazon’s offering:

Microsoft Affiliate Program Review
Source: quora

And as you can see it’s not really negative.

I tracked down another article on Medium (via Reddit) where one company was pissed at the way Microsoft handled their transition away from Tradedoubler to Impact Radius.

Microsoft Affiliate Revenue
Source: Medium

But that was only because they lost a ton of money due to the hiccups caused by the change i.e. nobody told them it was happening.

The thing is the above screenshot actually reinforces something about this affiliate program – the annoyed people were making stacks’o’cash promoting the Microsoft affiliate program.

Also, as part of researching articles like this, I’ll typically reach out to the relevant affiliate program manager with a question or two.

To their credit Microsoft’s affiliate manager was super responsive when I reached out to him – I think he replied to me in under an hour.

That might not seem like a big deal to you, but I usually get a 20% response rate with that stuff – 80% of affiliate managers never bother replying.

But Microsoft’s reply was almost instant, while also directly answering my question…and he even managed to come across as friendly.

That tells me a lot about how an affiliate program is run internally.

It should tell you a lot too.

Why not use Amazon instead?

That’s a really good question – I mean, why even bother with the Microsoft program at all?

While Amazon is definitely an option for any affiliate declined for Microsoft’s program, it’s not an affiliate El Dorado either.

And that’s for a couple of reasons.

The first is that Amazon only offers a 24-hour cookie whereas Microsoft instead offers a 14-day cookie. 

Yes, Amazon is an affiliate conversion machine…but that 1-day cookie can be tough to work with if somebody is about to drop two grand on a Surface tablet.

That’s not exactly an impulse buy, right?

The next issue is that although Amazon is the biggest e-commerce platform on Earth (for now) they also cannot stock everything.

And that includes every single Microsoft product in existence.

In Amazon’s case, they actually have a pretty weak selection of Microsoft products…which are regularly out of stock.

That means you’d have to choose products that will both convert well with your audience and where you don’t get screwed by Amazon because of a lower commission rate.

Not quite as easy as it sounds, eh?

The same applies to using the eBay affiliate program instead of Microsoft’s program– you’re going to have to work to find offers that match what your audience wants.

And in the case of some unscrupulous eBay sellers, pray that the software license is legit.

So, on review, there are alternatives you can use but going direct with Microsoft is quite probably the easiest solution here.

Weighing it up

So now that we’ve turned the Microsoft affiliate program inside out and upside down, let’s try to give you a TLDR version of whether or not it’s worth your while.

Pros

  • You’ll never have to pre-sell Microsoft products to your audience
  • Hundreds of products suitable for geeks and normies alike
  • Reasonably competitive commission rates to earn money with
  • You can choose between a percentage-based commission or CPA offers
  • Huge range of constantly updated creatives- they have their finger on the pulse
  • Their 14-day cookie is 14x better than Amazon’s
  • You can make affiliate cash selling apps, games, hardware and other software
  • An ideal affiliate program for bloggers working in related niches

Cons

  • Not getting paid for promoting their Windows products is bloody stupid
  • Commission rates as low as 1% on a completely undefined list of products
  • Nothing approaching a 10% commission rate
Microsoft Affiliate Commissions

URL: Microsoft affiliate program

Commission:  Up to 7% or $10 per lead

Payment schedule: Net 60

Payment threshold: $50

Cookie duration: 14 days

Summary

And that brings us to the end of our Microsoft affiliate program review post.

As you can see, their affiliate program is far from perfect.

The obvious gaps in their product offerings is annoying, to say the least.

You really do need to read the fine print when it comes to what they pay commission on.

But you have their huge market presence working in your favor for pretty much everything else they create.

And some of their commission rates are pretty impressive.

For example, you could go super-niche and earn commissions of up to 7% for selling Xbox games through your affiliate links.

The same goes for TV shows and movies in the Microsoft/Windows store – there’s a lot of potential there to earn commissions in the 7% range.

And let’s not forget software products like Office 365 – they almost completely dominate that market.

You could build a very profitable niche site just promoting their Office 365 products alone. 

So, for all its flaws, there’s still the potential for affiliates to make money with this program.

The kind of money that buys personal and financial freedom.

The trick is to get the basics of affiliate marketing right before you do anything else.

And that’s exactly the kind of stuff we share with you in our 2-hour web class.

You’ll learn how to research a niche, choose keywords, and get a basic affiliate site online.

Pretty much everything you need to make money as an affiliate marketer.

Completely free of charge.

So just shoot over your name, email address, and a time that suits you to attend.

We’ll take care of your invite from there.

And if you like this affiliate program review, don’t forget to share it on social media.

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