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Office 365 forces switch to Bing on Chrome browser

Microsoft is planning to force Office 365 ProPlus users to use Bing Search with their Chrome browser.  A heavy-handed move that’s annoying IT admins but is also misunderstood, so here’s what definitely happening and NOT happening.

This applies to the volume licence version of Office 365, called Office 365 ProPlus.  It does NOT apply to consumer like Office 365 Home, Personal and University.

Which Chrome extension?

The Chrome browser extension to be installed is Microsoft Search in Bing quick access .

Source: Microsoft

It’s not the ‘Office’ Chrome extension that adds Office Online links to the browser.

Microsoft Search in Bing quick access

Microsoft Search in Bing quick access is described as:

“ Quickly access your enterprise search powered by Microsoft Search.

The Microsoft Search in Bing extension gives your users quick access to enterprise content. It offers a consistent entry point, which coupled with your enterprise branding, enables a trainable experience for end users.”

Microsoft Search lets businesses search for content inside their organizations.

The extension lets ‘in-house’ users search for business documents etc from within Chrome.

The problem

So far, no problem.  It’s just another way to find business documents.

As part of installing the Chrome extension, Microsoft is changing the default browser for ALL searches to their own Bing search.  According to Microsoft:

“ 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.”

In other words, Microsoft wants to make Search work from main browser bar not just the search box inside their extension.

Of course, this was Microsoft’s only motivation for changing the overall default search engine.  Any boost to Bing’s usage didn’t occur to management, perish the thought </sarcasm>.

The extension will be pushed out in the version 2002 update to Office 365 ProPlus, coming out in February 2020.

The solutions

There are a few ways to solve the problems of the intruder to Chrome.  They are already documented by Microsoft but are obscured by poor labelling (deliberate?) and lack of options.

Don’t install the extension

Admins can stop the ’Microsoft Search in Bing quick access’ extension from being installed. The various methods are documented here.

There aren’t any mentions of the Chrome extension by name, instead there are references to ‘Bing’ or ‘Set default search engine to Microsoft Search in Bing’.  Nothing that mentions the Chrome extension extra.

Source: Microsoft

No option to install the (unnamed) extension but without Bing as the default search engine.

Turn off Bing as default search

In the extension is an option for users to turn off Bing as the default search engine

Source: Microsoft

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