Microsoft backtracks on forcing Bing into Office 365

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The plan to force Office 365 ProPlus users to Bing Search has come to a halt with Microsoft announcing a backtrack on their original ham-fisted plan.

As we told you last month, they wanted to add a Microsoft Search extension for Google Chrome which also changed the default search engine to Bing.  This new Office 365 ProPlus feature would be turned on by default with the choice to disable obscured behind some vague wording.  The whole thing was a transparent ploy to get Office 365 customers away from Microsoft’s rival, Google.

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That plan has been somewhat reversed, at least for now.  The announcement came with some typical but still laughable text from Microsoft.

“ On January 22, 2020 we announced in advance that the Microsoft Search in Bing browser extension would be made available through Office 365 ProPlus on Windows devices starting at the end of February. 

No specific mention of the Google Chrome extension, it’s forced installation or change of search default – all the things that annoyed admins and users alike.

“ Since then, we’ve heard from many customers who are excited about the value Microsoft Search provides through Bing and the simplicity of deploying that value through Office 365 ProPlus.

Really?  How many customers liked the idea of this extra ‘value’?  Would they still be ‘excited’ once they realised the full and self-serving consequences of Microsoft’s plan?

“ But we’ve also heard concerns about the way we were planning to roll this value out. Most importantly, we heard that customers don’t want Office 365 ProPlus to change search defaults without an opt-in, and they need a way to govern these changes on unmanaged devices

It would have been hard to ignore those concerns coming from all sides.  This paragraph doesn’t mention the complaints about the Chrome extension being installed automatically.

Now Microsoft is promising these changes to their plan:

  • “ The Microsoft Search in Bing browser extension will not be automatically deployed with Office 365 ProPlus.  
  • Through a new toggle in Microsoft 365 admin center, administrators will be able to opt in to deploy the browser extension to their organization through Office 365 ProPlus.  
  • In the near term, Office 365 ProPlus will only deploy the browser extension to AD-joined devices, even within organizations that have opted in. In the future we will add specific settings to govern the deployment of the extension to unmanaged devices. 
  • We will continue to provide end users who receive the extension with control over their search engine preference.

“Due to these changes, the Microsoft Search in Bing extension will not ship with Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus. We will provide an updated timeline for this rollout over the next few weeks

There’ll be a delay in deploying Search in Bing.  Most customers will happily survive this rollout pause in exchange for better control over their Office 365 systems and web searches.

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