About three weeks ago, Microsoft decided the best way to boost its search engine share would be to force Office 365 ProPlus users to use Bing. The justification for this behavior was that Bing was going to automatically start displaying information from your company when you performed local searches. Mandatorily. Without your consent. Microsoft framed this as an advantage, claiming “By making Bing the default search engine, users in your organization with Google Chrome will be able to take advantage of Microsoft Search.”
Users, needless to say, were not happy about this. Except, apparently, it isn’t needless to say, because someone at Microsoft actually thought this was a good idea. Sysadmins and users alike got cranky on the topic and raised enough of a stink that Microsoft caved.
Microsoft, however, can’t resist admitting that without telling us how many people loved the idea of being forced to use its search engine.
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. 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. With Microsoft Search integrated, Bing becomes a single search engine for users to find what they need – both from inside their organization and the public web.
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.
I’d just love to see the numbers on how many people wrote in excitedly praising Microsoft for forcing them to use a search engine they did not choose, request, or opt into, versus how many felt this was a grievous breach of protocol. I’m willing to bet I know which way the numbers run.
Regardless, though, the important point is that they aren’t doing this. Admins will be able to flip a toggle to deploy the solution, but it will only be deployed to AD-managed devices, even if an organization has opted in. This will change at an unspecified future date as the capability is more widely deployed.
There’s nothing wrong with using a search engine to access corporate data if that fits the role and practice of what search engines are for in your line of work, but end users never like being shoved into using a solution. Also, users who took advantage of the multiple installation licenses they received under Office 365 ProPlus will not wind up having the search engine default changed on their personal hardware as well.
So, the good news here is that Microsoft won’t be making a disliked and unpopular change to Office 365. The bad news is that we had to explain this to people who actually work in the software industry.
Top image credit: Microsoft
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