Home Android Microsoft retreats from scheme to change Chrome’s search engine

Microsoft retreats from scheme to change Chrome’s search engine

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Microsoft today backed away from its heavily criticized plan to force Google’s Chrome to use the Bing search engine.

“The Microsoft Search in Bing extension will not ship with Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus,” Microsoft said in an unsigned post to a company blog.

Late last month, Microsoft had quietly announced that it would change the default search engine of Google’s Chrome to Bing — Microsoft’s own search service — on personal computers running Office 365 ProPlus, the productivity applications that serve as the heart of enterprise-grade Office 365 subscriptions.

The swap of search defaults within Chrome was to begin this month and wrap up by July, the timing dependent on when corporate IT administrators had scheduled Office 365 ProPlus’ upgrades. “Starting with Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus, an extension for Microsoft Search in Bing will be installed that makes Bing the default search engine for the Google Chrome web browser,” Microsoft said when it delivered the news. “This extension will be installed with new installations of Office 365 ProPlus or when existing installations of Office 365 ProPlus are updated.”

Microsoft also said that it would do the same to Office 365 ProPlus customers’ copies of Firefox, although it left the timing to an unspecified later date.

The reason for the forced change to search, Microsoft said, was that Bing was required to implement Microsoft Search, which when tied to an Office 365 account let users look up internal information — documents stored on OneDrive or SharePoint, for example — from the browser’s address bar.

Microsoft’s new Edge browser, which like Chrome is built from code produced by the Google-dominated Chromium open-source project, used Bing by default and so could search for and find such information. By adding the extension to Chrome, and later Firefox, Microsoft would put those browsers’ users on an equal Office 365 footing with ones running Edge.

In plainer terms, Microsoft was more interested in pushing a notable Office 365 feature, and thus Office 365, than it was in getting permission from users before switching browser search defaults.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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