Office 365 – Office 365 Pro is changing the default search engine

Coming with the version 2002 of Office 365 Pro Plus, a browser extension is going to be installed on Chrome to make Bing the default search engine.

This change is scheduled to be deployed starting February 2020 for the Targeted channel, March 2010 for the Monthly channel and with the next release for Semi-Annual channel.

Update channel Version Release date
Monthly Channel (Targeted) Version 2002 Middle of February 2020
Monthly Version 2002 Early March 2020
Semi-Annual (Targeted) To be determined March 10, 2020
Semi-Annual To be determined July 14, 2020

There is plan to do the same for FireFox.

This change,so far, only applies to certain locations:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • UK
  • US

New and updated installation will get this extension; unless Bing is already set as the default search engine in Chrome (which is quite unlikely Smile)

Your end-users will be able to disable the extension as any Chrome extension. The extension will need to be disabled if your end-users wants to change back the default search engine; using the usual search engine setting in the browser will not work.

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As administrator, you can control if the extension can be installed or not using Group Policy, the Office Deployment Tool (for new installation), SCCM or Intune.

NOTE regarding how unwelcomed this change is, there could be some change.

To disable this extension/block the installation:

Using the Office Deployment Tool

Add the below line in your XML configuration file between the <Product > </Product>

<ExcludeApp ID=”Bing” />

Using Group Policy

Download the corresponding ADMX files (starting with version 4966.1000) here https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49030

And then set the Don’t install extension for Microsoft Search in Bing that makes Bing the default the search engine setting to Enable, available under Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office 2016 (Machine)\Updates

Using SCCM

If you use SCCM to deploy your Office 365 Pro Plus, update the Set default search engine to Microsoft Search in Bing setting available under the Features section

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Using the Office Customization Tool

This applies only for new install

Logon to the Office Configuration website (https://config.office.com/) and go to Customization\Device Configuration blade to edit/create new configuration and then manage the Set default search engine to Microsoft Search in Bing setting

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Using Intune

If you are using Intune to deploy Office 365, you will need to update the Configure App Suite section of the Office 365 application to manage the Set default search engine to Microsoft Search in Bing (NOTE this is not yet available)

Registry

If you want/need the Group Policy is setting the below registry key you can then push to existing deployment using SCCM (Configuration Baseline) or Intune

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\office\16.0\common\officeupdate

“preventbinginstall”=dword:00000001

1: meaning do not install and 0: meaning install

Benoit Hamet
Benoit Hamet
Benoit is working on Microsoft collaborative technologies He has been awarded as MVP for more than 12 years Currently MVP on Office 365 after being awarded on SharePoint (2011-2012) and Windows client & server (2002-2007) Speaker at various Microsoft events (TechDays, TechNet seminars) and Quest Software He works on on-premises (Active Directory, RADIUS/NPS, Exchange, Skype for Business, SharePoint, SQL, Terminal Server, Windows client and Windows Server) or online (Azure, Intune, Office 365, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business Online, Teams) technologies