Microsoft revealed today that it plans to install an extension in Google Chrome called Microsoft Search in Bing for some customers that will make Bing the default search engine in the browser automatically.
The move, which may remind some users of tactics used by the “old” Microsoft, forces Microsoft’s extension on systems of Office 365 ProPlus users in select locations (according to Microsoft, in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, United Kingdom and United States).
To give one example: Microsoft installed an extension in Firefox in 2010 automatically, also linked to the Bing Search engine, with an update for the company’s Windows operating system.
The company points out that customers may start to “take advantage of Microsoft Search” when Bing is the default search engine so that they may “access relevant workplace information” directly in the browser’s address bar.
By making Bing the default search engine, users in your organization with Google Chrome will be able to take advantage of Microsoft Search, including being able to access relevant workplace information directly from the browser address bar. Microsoft Search is part of Microsoft 365 and is turned on by default for all Microsoft apps that support it.
Starting with Office 365 ProPlus 2002, out in February/March, Microsoft Search in Bing will be installed in Chrome automatically. Microsoft notes that the extension will be installed when users install Office 365 ProPlus or when existing installations are upgraded.
Administrators who don’t want this to happen can prevent the installation easily according to Microsoft, and if it is installed already, it is easy enough to stop using Bing as the default search engine as well (there is a toggle to use the previous default search engine again).
Admins may run the following command to remove the extension again:
- C:Program Files (x86)MicrosoftDefaultPackPCMainBootStrap.exe uninstallAll
Administrators may use these instructions to block Microsoft Search in Bing from being installed; instructions to block the installation using the Office Deployment Tool, Group Policy, or Configuration Manager are provided.
Admins may set the value in the Registry to block the installation:
- Use Windows-R to open the run box.
- Type regedit.exe and hit the Enter-key.
- Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftoffice16.0commonofficeupdate
- Right-click on officeupdate and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value.
- Name it preventbinginstall
- Set its value to 1
It is one thing to make customers aware of new functionality that they may not be aware of, another to make changes forcefully in third-party programs that may affect user workflows or preferences. It is likely going to backfire on Microsoft.
Users who set Bing as the default in Chrome don’t need the extension as they are all set up already. The extension won’t be installed in this case.
Now you: what is your take on Microsoft’s strategy to get customers to use Bing / Microsoft Search?