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  • Will Microsoft forcibly change the Chrome default search engine to Bing?

    Posted on January 22nd, 2020 at 07:43 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Is this “Office as a Service,” or just another poorly worded Microsoft announcement?

    I’m getting lots of questions about a bizarre but official post from ‘Softie Daniel Brown entitled Microsoft Search in Bing and Office 365 ProPlus. In it, Microsoft seems to be saying that everyone who installs the latest patch for Office 365 ProPlus will have their default search engine in Google Chrome changed to Bing.

    Starting with Version 2002 of Office 365 ProPlus, an extension for Microsoft Search in Bing will be installed that makes Bing the default search engine for the Google Chrome web browser. This extension will be installed with new installations of Office 365 ProPlus or when existing installations of Office 365 ProPlus are updated.

    Pardon me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.

    By making Bing the default search engine, users in your organization with Google Chrome will be able to take advantage of Microsoft Search, including being able to access relevant workplace information directly from the browser address bar. Microsoft Search is part of Microsoft 365 and is turned on by default for all Microsoft apps that support it.

    First of all, “Version 2002” is Microsoft’s incredibly stupid way of saying the February 2020 update to Office 365 Pro Plus. It’ll be available to the bleeding edge in February, but normal folks (on the “Semi-Annual Channel branch,” you gotta love the terminology) won’t see it until July.

    After the extension for Microsoft Search in Bing is installed, your users will see a Welcome screen. For example, the Welcome screen in Google Chrome looks similar to this:

    Can they do that?

    Not all devices with Version 2002 or later will receive the extension right away. That’s because we’re gradually rolling out this change, first to new installations and then to existing installations. So if you’re installing or updating to Version 2002 or later, and the extension isn’t installed, that is probably expected and not necessarily an error. It’s likely a future installation or update will install the extension and set Bing as the default search engine for Google Chrome.

    That’s either the worst Microsoft announcement I’ve seen this year — or it’s an incredible overstepping of antitrust proportions that deserves fire and brimstone.

    Do you read the announcement any differently? Is this perhaps an opt-in kind of thing, where you have to activate the extension (which is dirty pool, too, don’t get me wrong)? Or is Microsoft going to roll out Bing as the default search engine in Chrome for everybody who’s getting Office ProPlus … as a Service, of course.

    UPDATE: Catalin Cimpanu, over at ZDNet, is under the impression that this is for real — that Office 365 ProPlus will hijack your Chrome browser search engine. He goes over MS’s published methods for preventing the hijacking.

    Where’s the outrage? Or is this the new normal?

  • Say hello to the latest and greatest Microsoft Edge

    Posted on January 20th, 2020 at 01:00 Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    WOODY’S WINDOWS WATCH

    By Woody Leonhard

    Will Microsoft’s last-ditch effort to reinstate its Internet-browser hegemony succeed?

    There’s plenty to like about the new Chromium-based Edge — but plenty of shortcomings, too.

    Almost as soon as Microsoft won the Internet-browser race in the 2000s, its hold on that hard-fought market began to erode. By May 2007, Firefox was running on roughly a quarter of all Windows PCs. In 2009, Google’s Chrome burst onto the scene in a big way — and for Microsoft, it’s been all downhill ever since.

    Read the full story in AskWoody Plus Newsletter 17.3.0 (2020-01-20).

  • Windows 7 end of support: Separating the bull from the horns

    Posted on January 15th, 2020 at 14:18 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    There are so many half-truths, mistakes, and simple lies floating around about Win7’s demise that I put together a lengthy list.

    Keep in mind that many of the people writing about Win7’s EOL haven’t been around long enough to remember the abstract beauty of an Aero desktop. At least, I think Aero was beautiful.

    Long list of Truths and Falsehoods in Computerworld Woody on Windows.

  • Chredge is available now

    Posted on January 15th, 2020 at 11:12 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Be still my beating heart.

    The Chromium-engine based version of Edge, which Mary Jo calls “Chredge,” just made an appearance on the Microsoft download site. Don’t know about you, but when I go to that site with the Chrome browser on Win10, it invites me to download the macOS version.

    Chredge still has a lot of rough edges. No history sync across devices. No extension sync between devices. And we’re just starting the (unpaid) beta testing phase. But it’s still a welcome new take on a dreadful old/new product.

    We’ve been promised an automatic rollout to Windows users.Kyle Pflug at Microsoft has posted a rollout roadmap:

    If you’d prefer not to install Microsoft Edge manuallyyou can wait for it to be installed in a future update to Windows 10following our measured roll-out approach over the next several months. We will start to migrate Windows 10 customers to the new Microsoft Edge in the coming weeks, starting with a subset of Windows Insiders in the Release Preview ring Enterprise and education users will not be automatically upgraded at this timeThe new Microsoft Edge will gradually be made available on Windows Update and offered to additional devices as data and feedback indicate that users are having a good experience.

    Yes, you can run Chredge and Oldedge simultaneously, but why bother?

  • Neowin: Microsoft will support the new Chromium-based Edge, Chredge, for at least 18 months

    Posted on January 13th, 2020 at 15:17 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make any sense.

    But if you’re running Windows 7 after Wednesday, you’ll likely get nudged to install the new Chredge = the Chromium-engine based version of Edge.

    Even more surprising: That version of Chredge — the one on the unsupported version of Windows — will be supported at least until July 15, 2021.

    Rich Woods at Neowin says it’s so.

    Thx @EP for the heads up.

    UPDATE: Rich Woods has since said that Microsoft retracted its statement.

  • Foley: MS will phase out the Win10 Store for Business and Store for Education

    Posted on January 10th, 2020 at 09:36 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    No, Microsoft isn’t going to give up on the Microsoft Store any time soon. In fact, they’re expanding the Store so it includes all Windows programs, not just Win10-only UWP apps. Some day they will be able to sell, you know, refrigerators, I s’pose.

    But the specialized Stores for Business and Education are getting the boot, according to Mary Jo Foley (who’s always right about such things). This just out on ZDNet:

    The Store for Business and Store for Education were designed for admins who wanted to make applications available to their users outside of the normal Windows Store channel in Windows 10. They allow admins to make Store apps available to their users for volume acquisition and distribution, as well as provide a way for custom line-of-business distribution only inside a particular organization…

    Microsoft is continuing to try to clean up its digital app-store mess. Its latest planned move, according to my contacts: Get rid of the Microsoft Store for Business and Microsoft Store for Education.

    I wouldn’t read this as a prediction of the future – just an acknowledgment (not yet official) about the futility of the past.

    For the future, something’s got to give with the Microsoft Store. It’s going to face some major changes, sooner rather than later. Microsoft tried to replicate the successes of the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, and just blew it.

    Kinda like UWP, truth be told.

  • The Credge is coming! The Credge is coming!

    Posted on December 17th, 2019 at 07:24 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    (Thx, Peppy Grill, Indianapolis, via Steve Baker)

    In case you haven’t heard, Microsoft’s going to start rolling out its new, Chromium-based version of the Edge browser on January 15. Mary Jo Foley has details on ZDNet. Yes, that means if you’re running Windows 7 on the day after it died, it’ll get Credge, too.

    Credge is coming down the chimney — delivered via Windows Update. It’s not yet clear exactly how the update will roll out, but we’ll no doubt hear more soon.

    There are lots of reasons to like Credge, but the feature I like most is its disentanglement from Windows. If you recall, Internet Explorer was (and still is, to some small extent) bound to Windows at the wrists and ankles. Edge started out as a fresh new take on the browser, but soon got ensnarled in the Windows muck — the only way to update Edge was to update Windows. I’m convinced that the folks who designed Edge didn’t realize how much they’d have to depend on new/altered hooks in Windows, in order to make the browser work.

    Credge starts out fresh. It’s an app, in many respects just like any other app. In theory, MS will be able to update Credge without updating Windows. And that’s good for everybody.

    Will I use Credge as soon as it’s out? You gotta be kidding. I’ll stick with Brave and Firefox and Chrome. Give it a year to stew, and let’s see how it turns out.

    P.S. Yes, I know you can proactively block Credge from installing on your machine, thus clobbering Edge Classic. But why would anyone want to? Really?

  • Foley: This is how Microsoft’s Azure organization makes Windows

    Posted on December 12th, 2019 at 12:32 woody Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Fascinating story from Mary Jo in ZDNet. She had an opportunity to interview Jason Zander, the EVP of Azure — in other words, the head honcho of the team that now makes the insides of Win10.

    “Security, reliability and performance are prioritized all across,” Zander said. “Then certain features are prioritized depending on new launches — like a new console launch.”

    Feature priorities are decided sometimes in a six-month or a year-long boundary, he said. The biggest take-away: “It’s not a tyranny of organizations anymore” when it comes to deciding on timing and feature sets.

    Given how high priority and all-encompassing Azure is for Microsoft these days, do Zander and his team still care much about Windows?

    “I get updates every other day with self-host builds,” Zander said. “We love Windows and will continue to love Windows.”

    If you wonder about the way Microsoft’s going to keep developing Windows, this is a must-read.