Microsoft plots hijack of Google search engine for Office 365 users

Netscape used to be the king of browsers in the 1990s until Microsoft came along and bundled Internet Explorer from Windows 95. This swayed many PC users to the Microsoft browser and marked the demise of Netscape.

In 2008, Google introduced Chrome, which proved to be a strong competitor took over the reign from Internet Explorer. With its built-in search engine, Chrome is the winner in the browser war.

Recognising the powerful combination of Chome and the Google search engine, Microsoft has taken on a new tact — this time, it is gunning for the search engine. It’s a case of if you can’t beat them, leverage them.

Last week, it announced in a blogpost that a Bing extension will be set as default for Office 365 ProPlus users.

According to Microsoft, this is in response to user requests for a single tool to deploy all desktop components of Office 365.

“This extension will be installed with new installations of Office 365 ProPlus and when existing installations are updated. If Bing is already the default search engine, the extension will not get installed,” said the post.

This change will be effective from end February initially in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, the UK, and the US.

The first time users open Chrome after the extension for Microsoft Search in Bing is installed, they will have an option to change their search preferences by “taking a few simple steps”.

While it is too early to know what those simple steps of switching back entails, Microsoft’s move looks likely to rile users as it smacks of a hijack of the Chrome browser. It is akin to having adware inserted upon installation, then removed. A better move to appease users would be to make Microsoft Search in Bing an option.