Microsoft has started a new pilot program on their Microsoft Answers forum whereby users will be allowed to pay for tech support. The way it is intended to work is that users can ask questions on the new website and a select group of technical experts will be able to bid and provide support. The program is currently available only on the English forum. The service is currently named – TechSupport Marketplace and chances are it’ll be re-named.

According to Microsoft:

TechSupport Marketplace is a website developed and hosted by Microsoft. It brings together Customers who are having a problem and independent Experts with the skills and ability to troubleshoot and help resolve those problems. In return for helping Customers with their computer problems in a one on one manner, the Experts earn some money directly from the Customer they are helping.

Why is Microsoft hosting this site?

Microsoft is offering this site as a service for both Customers and Experts. By helping to bring down the cost of support dramatically, Microsoft hopes that Customers will get even small problems fixed. This should make owning and using computers a more enjoyable and rewarding experience.

In order to lower support costs, Microsoft does not charge Experts any money either. This reduces their overhead, which translates into lower costs to Customers. In addition, Microsoft makes available tools to help with the troubleshooting process which should help reduce the time coming to a solution to the problem.

Something like Experts-Exchange? Never liked that site to be honest and this might have a negative impact on the community aspect that Tyler Welch (PM – MS Answers) talked about in our latest podcast.

Update: Microsoft will not be taking any of the share of the money and all of it will go to the expert, minus Paypal’s processing fee since it’ll be the payment gateway.

Update #2: Mary Jo Foley has some more program specifics courtesy a spokesperson at Microsoft.