Microsoft plans to ‘force’ Indian Google Chrome users to change their default search engine
With the Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus, an extension for Microsoft Search in Bing will be installed, which will make Bing as the default search engine for the Chrome browser.
Microsoft may soon start 'forcing' Indian Google Chrome users to move to its own Bing search engine instead of rival Google. And the company plans to do this by using its Office 365 ProPlus installer. Microsoft confirmed this move in one of the support pages titled 'Microsoft Search in Bing and Office 365 ProPlus', stating that with the Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus, an extension for Microsoft Search in Bing will be installed, which will make Bing as the default search engine for the Chrome browser.
For now, this extension will only be installed for Office 365 ProPlus for certain locations and India is one of them. Other regions include Australia, Canada, France, Germany, United Kingdom and the United States. "This extension will be installed with new installations of Office 365 ProPlus or when existing installations of Office 365 ProPlus are updated," added the page. What's more is that if you already have Bing as the default search engine, the extension won't get installed.
However, Microsoft is marketing this in a different manner. Here's what the page states.
"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."
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So what is Office 365 ProPlus you ask?
For those unaware, Office 365 ProPlus is a suite of desktop apps including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and Teams that is made available as a subscription. It also gives some exclusive features like 'Ideas in Excel', 'Research in Word', 'Real-time collaboration' among other security features. It is possible to install these apps on up to five PCs or Macs, five tablets and five smartphones. Subscribers also get 1TB of cloud storage.
Office goers affected more than general users
From the page it can be seen that Microsoft's Office 365 ProPlus's Bing extension is being targeted at IT admins. This means that if your office IT admin deploys it, you are likely to see Bing search engine instead of Google on your device.
Also read: Microsoft previews how apps will work on dual-screen devices
Microsoft says it plans to release Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus starting mid-February. "Version 2002 is expected to be released in Monthly Channel in early March 2020 and will be available in Monthly Channel (Targeted) shortly before then. After that, the extension will then be included in releases of Semi-Annual (Targeted) and Semi-Annual Channel."
Is there a way to opt out?
Yes. In the same page Microsoft adds that you can simply exclude the extension from being installed using Office Deployment Tool or using the Group Policy. In addition to these, there are ways to uninstall it using Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (current branch) or Microsoft Intune.
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