Starting mid-February 2020, updates for Office 365 ProPlus version 2002 will include an extension for Microsoft Search that will make Bing the default search engine for the Chrome browser. Other versions will start getting the update in March. System administrators have not received this news well, however.
The Microsoft Search extension for Chrome will be available for select regions before rolling out worldwide. The first target countries include the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada.
Conducting a Bing search via Chrome, which already has the Google search engine built-in, feels odd to some users and system administrators. But what’s even more annoying is Microsoft appearing to force its customers to do that.
With Microsoft Search, workers can use web browsers to look up workplace information.
Users can opt out
According to Statista, Google, the most popular search engine in the world, commanded an 87.96 percent market share in October 2019. Bing had a distant 5.27 percent share that month.
Microsoft may be acknowledging Google’s dominance by offering Office 365 ProPlus users a way out.
If you don’t want Bing to be made the default search engine, you can exclude the extension from being installed by using the Office Deployment Tool or by using Group Policy.
Opting out of the update isn’t as straightforward as clicking an option button or checking a box during installation, and that may explain why some system admins aren’t happy about it either. Plus, for this to work, organizations have to opt out before updating to an Office 365 ProPlus version with the Microsoft Search extension for Chrome.
Admins who have the extension installed by accident (or organizations that don’t need it anymore) can still remove it by running a script or command that Microsoft has provided.
History has proved time and again that, whenever it comes to browser or search engine wars, only consumer-facing products win. For example, Firefox is still relevant today partly because it offers its users access to the Google search engine, rather than impose an alternative.
Is Microsoft trying to expand the market share for Bing by building it into Office 365 ProPlus as an extension for Chrome? That remains to be seen.