Microsoft will automatically install Bing as the default search engine in Chrome for users of its Office 365 ProPlus offering. The goal is to enable the useful new Microsoft Search in Bing functionality, and anyone can uninstall it. But some customers are understandably outraged by the invasive strategy.
“Starting with Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus, an extension for Microsoft Search in Bing will be installed that makes Bing the default search engine for the Google Chrome web browser,” a Microsoft support document explains. “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.”
After this change—which will occur in both new and existing installs, starting in mid-February—users are free to switch back to their search engine of choice, most likely Google. The changes will be made for users in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Microsoft says, but may expand to other regions over time. Those running Firefox will not be impacted, but Microsoft plans to release a similar extension for that browser at a later date.
Predictably, some customers are not happy about this change, though it’s not clear from this Reddit thread how much of the outrage is coming from actual Office 365 ProPlus customers; this change does not impact any other versions of Office 365. “This should really be optional,” one of the calmer comments notes. “I think they severely underestimate the amount of helpdesk calls this will generate in an average org[anization].”
He’s right. That Microsoft Search in Bing is an excellent new feature for Office 365 is sort of beside the point: It seems like corporate customers should be able to access this functionality from any browsers without Microsoft silently changing the settings in their browser behind the scenes. Likewise, this is the sort of change that should be decided by IT or decision-makers at the organization that is deploying Office 365 ProPlus to its employees, and not by Microsoft. Especially for a third-party browser.