Microsoft forcing Bing search

Microsoft forcing Bing search

Last Friday Microsoft announced an important update coming to Office 365 Professional Plus / E3 subscribers being applied from February through to March 2020.


As we know the majority of our clients like to use Google Chrome as their main web browser, Microsoft are making a change to the default search engine used in Chrome to Microsoft Bing.


Why are they doing it – what’s the benefit?


As part of Microsoft 365, Microsoft Search is on by default for all Microsoft apps that support it. Microsoft Search provides contextual work-related information using data sources in Office 365, including SharePoint, Microsoft OneDrive for Business, and Emails.


With Bing as the default search engine for Chrome, your staff will be able to access Microsoft Search directly from their browser address bar when they are signed in with their work account adding to the search functionality.


What do you need to think about?


As this is a new development and the information from Microsoft has been limited, we do know that Bing search can impact performance on slower connections as it uses embedded images consuming bandwidth. Bing can also show news items which can be distracting.


The new Bing/Chrome feature can be toggled on or off, however we think setting a company standard is the best way forward, on or off.


How does this affect my practice?


If you are using the Chrome browser this change will happen automatically, however Microsoft have supplied some technical details that you can use to disable the new feature before it is activated.


If there is no intervention to the settings all new installations of Office 365 will include the Chrome change and all updates to your existing installations of Office 365 will include it.  Once installed your staff will be able to toggle the extension on and off.


The latest change if not managed will apply automatically and may create some unnecessary confusion if not communicated out to your team.


What do we recommend?


Although extending search to the browser has some benefit, it will be of very limited advantage for the majority of our clients as the flow of most data is within the practice management system. We have concern about additional performance impact on slower Internet connections and the potential impact to productivity with news pop ups potentially appearing.


Microsoft are already facing scrutiny from the tech community of browser hijacking and adding additional Microsoft adware and control to the end user experience which is clearly been seen as negative. We have investigated any further advantage the latest change brings, however not discovered any at this time. As IT departments decide what to do before the roll out along with the reaction from the IT community we would welcome further positive information from Microsoft to support the change.