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Speaking of free, I was rather excited by this news this afternoon.

In an attempt to render Windows 8.1 more palatable to end users, Microsoft Advertising have announced they’re including advertisements in the new global Smart Search system built into the operating system.

From the press release, which was refreshingly devoid of marketing speak:

Bing Ads will be an integral part of the new Windows 8.1 Smart Search experience. Now, with a single campaign setup, advertisers can connect with consumers across Bing, Yahoo! and the new Windows Search with highly relevant ads for their search queries.

User surveys have consistently shown people like being shown ads in products they’ve paid for, or when those results are informed by previous desktop searches. It’s why Ubuntu includes Amazon referrals in their search results, and why Mac OS X presents highly relevant banner ads in Spotlight.

I think Microsoft have another hit here.