Microsoft is trying a new way to push Office or Microsoft 365 to new customers by dropping links into the Windows Start Menu.
We’ve seen this on the Start Menu of Windows 10 preview releases. It’s a group of icons for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and Skype.
Most of the links are to the browser based versions of the common Office programs. These web based releases are way beyond mere web pages. They are programs in their own right known as Progressive Web Apps or PWA.
The icons seem to be intended to encourage use of Office apps, even by people not willing to pay for Microsoft 365 (or can’t afford it).
Some commentators seem surprised or even outraged by this addition to the Start Menu; Why? Microsoft has always used the Start Menu as advertising space and especially on Windows 10. Our book Windows 10 for Microsoft Office explains how to clear the Start Menu of advertising and make it work for you.
UPDATE: Microsoft now says the Start Menu icons are a bug, caused by the adding of Office PWA’s to Edge. That excuse doesn’t hold up. The Office web links have been dropped into Win10 since May 2020, long before the PWA’s were added. And the links force you to Microsoft’s Edge browser, instead of the customers browser choice. This is a Microsoft marketing move to push both Office and Edge – plain and simple.
Office icons a real PITA
We call these new icons an annoyance (or worse) because they are dumped into the Start Menu even if Microsoft 365 or Office for Windows is already installed.
The Office web and Office program icons are very similar with no proper way to tell the two apart.
That means clicking on these ‘bonus’ icons opens up a browser, instead of the full program on your computer.
What to do about the Office PWA icons
If these iconic pests appear in your Start Menu, they are easy to remove.
Right-click on the folder and choose ‘Unpin folder from Start’.
To remove just some Office icons, open the folder group, right-click on individual icons to Unpin from Start.