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Microsoft Dials Back Plan To Force Chrome Users To Bing

An update for Office 365 ProPlus this month will not include the Microsoft Search in Bing extension.

Microsoft disclosed a change of plans around its controversial move to use a forthcoming update for Office 365 ProPlus to make Bing the default for searches in Google Chrome.

In a blog post, Microsoft said it has "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."

[Related: The 10 Biggest Microsoft News Stories Of 2019]

As a result, the Microsoft Search in Bing extension "will not ship with Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus,” the company said in the post.

That update--for users in countries including the U.S. and Canada--has been targeted to roll out in phases starting in the middle of this month.

The extension would have defaulted browser address bar searches to Bing rather than Google's own search engine--despite Google being by far the more popular search engine.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company had promoted the move as a simplified way to bring its Microsoft Search technology to business users. Beyond just offering web searches, Microsoft Search can access files, OneDrive and SharePoint, as well as conversations in Teams and Yammer.

The announcement had received negative responses from many users in online forums, including a number of comments posted on Microsoft-owned sites such as GitHub.

For now, organizations will be able to opt-in to use the extension if they want, Microsoft said.

The Microsoft Search in Bing extension will still be deployed "in the near term," the company said, but only to Active Directory-joined devices. Microsoft said it will eventually add settings for governing the extension's deployment to devices that are unmanaged.

However, it's not clear from the blog post whether the extension will only be deployed in cases where there is an opt-in--or if it could still be deployed automatically to users like in the company's original plan.

CRN has reached out to Microsoft for clarification.

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