back to article It's a Bing thing: Microsoft drops plans to shove unloved search engine down throats of unsuspecting enterprises

Microsoft has U-turned on plans to automatically switch browser search defaults to Bing when users install Office 365 Pro Plus. In January, Microsoft let slip its plans to install a browser extension for Chrome that makes Bing the default search engine when users installed or updated Office Pro Plus, a key part of enterprise …

  1. J. Cook Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Waaaaaait a minute.....

    which integrates web search with results from internal business data stored in Office 365

    And that is why I'm leery of Orface 359.

    1. Christopher Reeve's Horse

      Re: Waaaaaait a minute.....

      This might be controversial, but is that necessarily a bad thing?

      If a company is fully bought into the Office 365 services already then all the information is already being indexed - and that's happening because of a policy / choice by the company to use the these services rather than a case of inappropriate data hording. It's effectively sanctioned and expected behaviour.

      Bing is, in this case, just one of the search channels an end user could use.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: Waaaaaait a minute.....

        Or like me I just use Office.com which can search OneDrive, Sharepoint sites, everything else Office online related.

        I fail to see why changing the default search engine after a user has already selected Google is a good thing.

        1. Christopher Reeve's Horse

          Re: Waaaaaait a minute.....

          I wasn't suggesting that overwriting a user selected search engine choice was a good thing, I was suggesting that integrating web search with results from internal business data stored in Office 365 might not necessarily be a bad thing. I'm sorry that you don't necessarily understand threaded conversations.

          1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Waaaaaait a minute.....

            Microsoft's way of integrating anything is to try and replace it with their own, until they receive enough fines they drop support for it.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Waaaaaait a minute.....

              Or they fuck it up so badly that the initial attraction/value is gone.

              1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

                Re: Waaaaaait a minute.....

                Oh yeah the Nokia handset business :S

                Although they can't be accused of tampering it since there was like 4 apps for the environment (Still in my opinion best handset for just Outlook email, not anything else), did any search engine provider bother making extensions for their search engines?

  2. PerlyKing Silver badge
    Happy

    Office 365 ProPlus

    Is that the student edition?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Office 365 ProPlus

      For lorry drivers.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "The move was buried in documentation"

    Always a sign that what you're doing is perfectly above board and not at all a stab in the back, no siree.

    Step by step, little by little, even Microsoft learns that the Customer Is Always Right. Who knows ? Maybe another thousand years and we'll get there.

    1. Steve Aubrey
      Trollface

      Re: "The move was buried in documentation"

      Optimist.

  4. dak

    Anyone willing to bet...

    ...that the plan for "unmanaged devices" isn't to provide them with default management by automatically (and silently) enrolling them in a global MSFT managed AD domain with a future patch?

    1. david 64

      Re: Anyone willing to bet...

      AKA a Microsoft Account.

  5. Kicker of Metaphorical Cats

    More of the same

    Are we to somehow think that a specific search term that we are willing to put into a web search box is somehow less confidential than the words we put in a business email only to have it checked for grammar and spelling? But hey, at least the most recent update gives me suggestions on how to use the corrected version of my pourly spelt wurds.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: More of the same

      Well the whole point of setting the default web search to Bing in a corporate setting where Office 365 Pro is in use is to ensure that search terms do remain “confidential” (at least, they remain within the agreed data bubble with the company and MS).

      I think the article author was being purposefully anti-Bing, making reference to how it should be better, etc. In such a corporate setting where O365Pro is in use, it’s the perfect search engine because it can combine results for internal and external searches and keeps things confidential whilst doing so. Confidentiality is a good thing for a corporate user.

      But also the author is skirting round an anti-trust issue; Google is the biggest search engine by usage statistics, and that is used by Google for competitive advantage in other areas. 48 State attorneys and the federal government are now interested in this aspect of Google’s business, and break up is possible. But break up of, say, search from, say, Docs is kinda nuts, simply because the ability to search internally and externally is lost. And if Google weren’t allowed to combine businesses so as to enable this, that probably means Microsoft wouldn’t be allowed to do so either. And then we have a problem.

      The desired end result of such an anti trust action is increased competition. However, there can’t be competition if the consumer can’t pick and choose. Say I did want O365Pro but combined with Google search? Never mind the business and confidentiality barriers, just how technically could that work? Google would have to know an awful lot about how O365Pro worked server side for such a search to be sensible. And vice versa, if someone wanted Bing and Google Docs, etc.

      The only way this can work for the consumer is if there are open standards for cloudy services, so that it becomes technologically possible to operate across clouds, not just within one single cloud. If anyone is working on such standards, well they’re not getting enough airtime.

      Apart from the technology such standards would also have to account for competing data protection regulatory frameworks, as well as allowing for appropriate confidentiality. That likely ends up allowing for the superset of all laws globally. So things like GDPR probably become global rules.

      Law makers have been remarkably lazy in addressing the walled gardens that the big companies have been allowed to create in the online age. It’s probably possible to do something about that, but it would have been a lot better had they insisted on open standards from the beginning...

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: More of the same

        > Well the whole point of setting the default web search to Bing in a corporate setting where Office 365 Pro is in use is to ensure that search terms do remain “confidential” (at least, they remain within the agreed data bubble with the company and MS).

        One of the original complaints, though was that this claim simply does not hold up to scrutiny.

        What you're actually potentially doing here, is training employees that it's OK to type confidential/sensitive information into the omnibox.

        Which is all well and good when the search goes to MS (the agreed provider). It's not so good if the user is in a browser who's search engine hasn't been changed (or has changed back). That might simply be because they're working from home today, or might be because they got fed up of Bing serving them porn and changed it back to Google.

        So, you may actually be increasing the risk of information being exposed, not reducing it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: More of the same

          Putting the words "Office365" and "confidential" in the same sentence is being somewhat optimistic, I feel. "Just me and people I choose to share with" is confidential. "Just me, Microsoft, Microsoft's partners, NSA, GCHQ, and a long list of law enforcement bodies" is not. And I doubt the latter list is anywhere near complete.

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Three card trick

    Sleight of hand seems to be the default Microsoft mode of operation.

    And they don't seem to learn that the users will latch on to their rigged games.

    It seems so often with sleazy behaviour - not just Microsoft- that the suits seem to think no one will notice. The Post Office getting people locked up to try and hide their software failure a big case in point.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Three card trick

      to do this properly you need a shill who makes it SO tempting to jump in and start choosing the card FOR him that you get suckered in...

      But yeah - MS changes your default search FOR you, because they *FEEL* "it is better" [pejorative use of the word 'feel'] , and the shill comes along and THANKS Micro-shaft for having done so, glowingly reviewing how much BETTER things are, now...

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: Three card trick

        For the company user of O365Pro, having Bing as the default probably Is better because it stops confidential search terms being carelessly typed into the wrong search engine.

        Technical merits of the search engine (speed, accuracy) are likely insignificant in the deliberations.

        Whilst technical whizzes such as yourself would never ever get confused as to what search can see what data, I reckon that 95% of corporate IT bods would figure that at least 50% of their users aren’t capable of attaining such dizzying heights of dependability and online awareness.

        Oh and Google are engaged in exactly the same game, but because they did it first and the other way round, no one has noticed.

  7. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Questions?

    I wonder if one of Slurps' legal beagles got wind of this stupidity and pointed out the legal ramifications of this latest goon tactic to slurp more user data.

  8. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Facepalm

    WHY do they even TRY these things? (do they think we are STUPID?)

    what it says in the title

  9. Winkypop Silver badge
    Joke

    Questions II?

    What is "Bing"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Questions II?

      Answers II

      Bing is a search engine which enlightened persons increasingly use and often get more relevant results than the ad infested Google.

      You’re welcome.

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: Questions II?

        "Bing is a search engine which enlightened persons increasingly use and often get more relevant results than the ad infested Google."

        This is totally correct. But you will get down-votes it's just de rigueur here on the reg to say most things that are pro MS. You'll be accused of being a shill... People simply won't try Bing because.. just because... I've never been given any good reason.

        1. Timmy B Silver badge

          Re: Questions II?

          I missed a "not" in that - "just not de rigueur here on the reg".... sigh...

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Questions II?

          While it is undoubtedly true that Google search is increasingly useless, corrupt and unhelpful, that's not the point.

          It's about removing choice from users, by sleight of hand or force majeure.

          Whether it's a better choice is of no relevance.

        3. Patrician

          Re: Questions II?

          I've tried Big several times and the results just are not a relevant as Google; sorry but if what I'm looking for is on page four in Bing but page one in Google, guess which I'll use.

          1. Timmy B Silver badge

            Re: Questions II?

            "I've tried Big several times and the results just are not a relevant as Google; sorry but if what I'm looking for is on page four in Bing but page one in Google, guess which I'll use."

            It's odd but I tend to find the opposite of that. Makes you wonder why. I wonder if, for example, two people searching for the same thing can get different results.

            1. Patrician

              Re: Questions II?

              There are algorithms associated with a search that generates a "profile" of the searcher apparently, so I suppose two people could get different results for the same search term in theory. Maybe.

      2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: Questions II?

        I stopped using Google Search a while ago.

        I don't use Bing directly, but use Ecosia which uses Bing as the underlying SE.

        I've not had any issues with it really. I tried Bing when they first launched and found it more or less unusable, but it does seem to have come a long way.

        1. Franco Silver badge

          Re: Questions II?

          I largely try to avoid Google myself, and have been using DuckDuckGo. Unfortumately it just isn't as useful as a search engine, whether that's due to the searching algorithms or whatever else I don't know.

          1. Cowboy Bob

            Re: Questions II?

            DuckDuckGo is a wrapper around Bing - it uses Bing APIs for searching

        2. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Questions II?

          Me too, but as noted, that's not the point. It's the fact that MS do it to you that's the point.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Questions II?

      It is the default search engine in Windows.

      The reason that nobody uses it is because everyone changes the default. It really is that bad.

    3. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Questions II?

      A German tin plate toy manufacturer.

    4. Matthew Smith

      Re: Questions II?

      The real question is what the hell is Flop?

      1. BenM 29

        Re: Questions II?

        too many people don't get this reference... I particularly like the mental image of Bing (the search engine) with Bing (cbeebies character) personality - small, whiney, crys if it doesn't get its own way and is never told NO!

        User: "OK windows, change default search to sometng useable"

        Bing: "oh why won't you use me to search? Floooopppp...."

        End of episode voice over "Being the semi compulsory search engine... it's a Bing thing!"

    5. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Questions II?

      My microwave goes "Bing". How do i make it go "Google"?

      1. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: Questions II?

        "How do i make it go "Google"?"

        Overheat a bowl of custard?

    6. Anonymous IV
      Unhappy

      Re: Questions II?

      > What is "Bing"?

      Bing used to be a manufacturer of a fizzy drink available in East Kent (at least) in the latter half of the last century, notable for the swing metal, ceramic and rubber stopper used to close the bottle, if not for its taste.

      What a pity that they (probably) didn't trade-mark the name, which would have prevented MS from using it for a search engine...

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: Questions II?

        "They" are now bankrupt and no longer trading, so Microsoft would be able to use the trademark.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Questions II?

          Not necessarily. IP is still a company asset and may be owned by or on behalf of someone- creditors etc. unless, as was suggested below, they didn't register it.

      2. Timmy B Silver badge

        Re: Questions II?

        "Bing used to be a manufacturer of a fizzy drink available in East Kent (at least) in the latter half of the last century, notable for the swing metal, ceramic and rubber stopper used to close the bottle, if not for its taste."

        I'm tempted to down vote you as you clearly did not use the proper UK English for fizzy drink: "Pop"

  10. adam payne Silver badge

    While the change of mind will be welcomed, what is surprising is that Microsoft ever thought it could change search defaults in this aggressive manner without strong opposition.

    That was my first thought.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We heard that customers don't want Office 365 ProPlus to change search defaults without an opt-in"

    After every media format lit up with people telling us to fuck off, we realised that we wouldn't get away with it. This time.

  12. Joe Drunk

    Still on Office 2010

    And haven't seen any compelling reason to "upgrade". I am still able to open Word documents and Excel spreadsheets chock full of crazy macros created with Office 2013/2019 sent to me. What am I missing?

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Still on Office 2010

      You are missing:

      Support for high resolution displays

      In Outlook

      - support for oauth authentication. You will need this for gmail accounts from mid-this year.

      - hotmail moved from deltasync to activesync at some point, I'm not sure when it was, and you might have problems with that

      In Excel

      - there's some new functions that are quite useful, eg switch() sumifs() and countifs(). You can do everythying they do with older functions, but they do reduce the number of nested functions in some cases which makes it easier to debug.

  13. steviebuk Silver badge

    jesus

    Are they REALLY desperate to be slapped with another United States vs Microsoft lawsuit again? They are going the right way about being hit with one.

  14. thondwe

    But Chrome?

    So if the idea is for corporates with Office - aren't these likely to only use IE/Edge anyway? Especially the new Chromey Edge? So an extension for Chrome which is not likely to be installed?

  15. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Changing settings that users have explicitly already made?

    Well, that's such a great idea...

  16. not.known@this.address Silver badge
    Big Brother

    marketing speak tranlated

    "The changes are such that delivery of the search extension is being delayed for an unspecified time."

    Shouldn't that read "Microshaft said 'The changes are such that delivery of the search extension is being delayed until we think everyone will have forgotten'..."?

  17. Rich 2 Silver badge

    "integrating internal and external search"

    Re the title, why would anyone want this? From the comments, it seems maybe (?) some people do, but I'm buggered if I can work out why.

    What I search for on my PC is very rarely anything like similar to what I search for on the web

    1. stratofish

      Re: "integrating internal and external search"

      I'm surprised nobody else seems to have mentioned this as it is the most obvious thing I got from the article.

      If I search a word/phrase on any web search engine I would expect to get public-facing results. Not my personal or business files. Nor would I ever want it too

  18. ukgnome

    What the flop

    Didn't read the article as the headline triggered me.

    Why mention the bunny at all.

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