Microsoft plans to use underhanded tactics to force Bing on Chrome users

The plan might just backfire.

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Microsoft has hatched a devious plan to boost Bing’s dismal market share numbers and move on from its record of spreading disinformation. The company is planning to switch Chrome’s default search to Bing by sneaking a Chrome extension into its Office 365 ProPlus installer. The move is a surprising level of deceit, even for a mega-corporation like Microsoft. And Microsoft didn’t do a great job at hiding its chess moves, either.

Bing who? — Everyone in the office could soon be booting up their computers to find their Chrome search bar brings them Bing results. Unless network administrators manually block the Chrome extension’s installation on a network-wide level, that is. Users can also manually remove the extension after the update has been completed. The update will affect ProPlus users in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, the U.K., and the U.S.

It’s like Microsoft is asking for an antitrust suit — Last March, Google was fined a record $5 billion by the E.U. for illegally tying its search engine and browser to a mobile operating system. In response, Google now gives E.U. Android users a choice of search provider.

Microsoft’s ploy to force Bing search on Office 365 ProPlus users could very well be seen as the same kind of aggressive dominance-seeking activity.

IT admins are already unhappy — The folks over at Reddit’s r/sysadmin subreddit have rallied their battle cries: the change is invasive, they say. Microsoft is marketing the automatic extension installation as a way to encourage the use of Microsoft Search in Chrome, but the effects of the change are more far-reaching. Admins in the subreddit point to the reality that, for them, this update will likely result in a heavy increase in helpdesk calls from the rest of the office.

Even if the plan doesn’t land Microsoft with a lawsuit or hefty fine, it won’t be viewed kindly. If anything, it may turn sentiment against Bing as unsuspecting users are forced to use it. We can only hope Microsoft will catch onto the vibe and cancel the update before it begins rolling out next month.