Microsoft offers free gifts with online exchange

Combine Christmas with "Let's Make a Deal," and you get the concept behind Microsoft's latest holiday promotion.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET
It's a classic game show conundrum: keep the gift you're given or swap it for a chance at winning something better. That's the idea behind Microsoft's new online gift exchange.

Each day from Monday, December 9, until Friday, December 20, Microsoft's gift exchange page will offer you a chance to win a surprise holiday present. After the gift pops up, Microsoft plays virtual Monty Hall by giving you the option to exchange it for something else. The grand prize of an online gift code worth $500 will end up in the stockings of 12 lucky winners.

To qualify, just fill out the form with your name, e-mail address, phone number, and zip code. Be sure to check the box to certify that you're a US resident. But you may want to uncheck the option to receive news and promotions from the Microsoft retail store.

A mystery gift then appears, which you can keep or swap for something else. On my first try, I opted to keep the gift and ended up with nothing but a message that said: "Bah Humbug. Sorry, you didn't win this time but you can still take advantage of our great holiday deals going on now. Don't forget to come back tomorrow and try you luck again."

Sure, Microsoft, I'll try again tomorrow. But I have a hunch I'll get the same message.

Like the 12 days of deals promotion , the online gift exchange is Microsoft's attempt to drum up excitement for its products among all us holiday shoppers.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.


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