On January 23, Microsoft announced a change to Office 365 Pro Plus. This change will make Bing the default search engine in Google Chrome.
This change to the Microsoft Search extension will take effect with version 2002 for certain locations (based on device IP address), in the form of a gradual rollout.
User have reacted with outrage at the announcement, opening dozens of support tickets on GitHub with titles such as “Seriously? Reverse this decision NOW!” and “Now playing: ‘Nine Inch Nails – I Do Not Want This’.”
One user complains, “So basically what you are saying is that now O365 is adware? I don’t want my users (or any users) to open a web browser and see a story about Harry and Meghan (as it is at the moment) or bloody Kim Kardashian.”
Jaded industry analysts might see this as just one more example of Microsoft quietly spreading its tentacles – leveraging its large footprint of existing customers to gain market share with more of its products, regardless of whether its users actually wish to use those additional products.
Of course, existing 365 users don’t have to use the extension – they can easily click a checkbox to disable it or uninstall it entirely. IT administrators can even remove it across their environment by using a group policy – and Microsoft points all this out in its documentation.
Info-Tech expects that Microsoft will continue to make similar plays to take market share in new areas, as we have seen with the launch of Teams as a competitor to vendors such as Slack.
IT professionals should remain vigilant and stay on top of their vendors’ changes to COTS applications – especially SaaS applications – to make sure their users are getting the most appropriate solutions for their use cases.