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July 6, 2020

Microsoft Search Extends Its Reach to Chrome (and Firefox)

Here’s an interesting snippet from an innocuous sounding item from Microsoft Docs dated January 17, 2020. It’s entitled “Microsoft Search in Bing and Office 365 Pro Plus” and is very much worth reading. The first paragraph baldly declares Microsoft’s intentions (I added the bold text for additional emphasis ):

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. This extension will be installed with new installations of Office 365 ProPlus or when existing installations of Office 365 ProPlus are updated. If Bing is already the default search engine, the extension doesn’t get installed.

In a following note, MS declares its intention to do likewise with Firefox “for a later date.” This change is slated for release in version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus, which MS says will appear sometime in “early March 2020.” It will also appear in Monthly Channel (Targeted) about two weeks earlier, and then in the next releases of Semmi-Annual (Targeted) and Semi-Annual Channels as well. In short, it will be everywhere it can go within months of the early March date.

Beware Those Creeping Tentacles!

Just yesterday, I blogged here at Win10.Guru about in-app advertisements that may soon appear in WordPad. This is a bit more aggressive and ambitious. I can’t help but feel MS tentacles enwrapping my desktop(s) from multiple directions. The question is: is this a fond embrace, or is it an out-and-out mindshare (and cash) grab? Here’s a more detailed version of Microsoft’s planned schedule to add this extension for “Microsoft Search in Bing:”

Microsoft Search Extends Its Reach.MS-search-in-Bing-schedule

Microsoft has Bing plans for your search behavior, even in non-MS browsers.
[Click for full-sized view.]

Building a Better, Bing-Based Search Experience

To explain the advantages of this change, MS asserts that

Microsoft Search in Bing provides a familiar web interface to help your users find workplace information more easily, including files and documents, internal sites and business tools, people and org charts, building information, and other relevant information from within your organization.

But this all comes with a distinctly MS-oriented outlook on IT and infrastructure platforms and practices:

Microsoft Search accesses SharePoint sites, OneDrive content, Teams and Yammer conversations, and other shared data sources in your organization, as well as the Internet.

A bit later on, MS provides pointers to various resources that include

+ How to prepare your organization for Microsoft Search in Bing
+ Microsoft Search in Bing
+ Overview of Microsoft Search

Looks like we’ve got a whole new outlook on digital life and transformation coming to light here. The question I have to ask, especially considering the business buy-in to Office 365 ProPlus subscriptions is “How is this going to fly in the marketplace?” This could either be one of Microsoft’s most brilliant moves ever, or one of its more spectacular blunders. Only time — and the marketplace reaction — will tell.

Reactions So Far: “Full of Sound and Fury…”

So far the pundits are hyperventilating about this. Thurrott’s article is a pretty good indicator. Likewise, The Verge does a good job of laying out the issues, while helpfully observing that “admins will be able to block the Chrome extension install through Group Policy, and users will be able to remove it after it has been installed.” See this Google News Search for lots of current reporting on this topic.

I expect things will calm down a bit after the operational details (and workarounds) make themselves known. But gosh! Isn’t it exciting to think about the wonders of Microsoft Search in Bing? Truly: the mind reels…

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

One Response “Microsoft Search Extends Its Reach to Chrome (and Firefox)”

  1. January 22, 2020 at 23:31

    I am a Bing user and fan, not having used Google in several years (exception: I use Google Translator instead of Bing one when I need to translate text).

    Having said that, I do not want to comment any more which search engine is better. It’s up to each user. However, I find this bold move very positive. ProPlus is the Office version used by all O365 and Microsoft 365 subscription plans which include desktop versions of Office applications. It makes sense that default search engine is capable to search not only external content, but also the internal content throughout the organization.

    For me, from my point of view, this is a very positive move.

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