Microsoft forcingly pushes Office web-apps in Windows 10

Although Microsoft does many things right, there are always a few aspects ruining the good overall impression.

Photo by Bram Van Oost on Unsplash

It’s quite difficult to grasp if it is some kind of strange behavior or a special kind of marketing, but as Windows 10 continues to be a modern operating system which gets a big update semi-anually, the question rises wether the user in front of the device is still in the driver-seat or not. Forced reboots for updates, a nasty DNS-bug in Build 2004 preventing internet access or the latest effect of web apps being forcibly installed on a system raise concerns if Windows-users are just a bunch of beta-testers for new features.

News Apps in Microsoft Edge — Photo Credits: Bleeping Computer

To be specific, voices raised that, at the moment, Microsoft is seemingly performing a test where the company is installing a suite of Office progressive web apps (PWA) in Windows 10 without asking permission from the user. A progressive web app is a kind of app which is designed via a web-based delivery so there is no need for a classical installation in form of executables. When executed, the well-known „wrapper“-style (remember Microsoft Teams being deployed via the Electron Framework?) is presented so that the native web app feels like a Desktop-version although rendered with the browser-engine of, in this case, the new Chromium-based edge.

Once you have them, you may also deinstall them — Photo Credits: Oliver Pifferi

Although this behavior alone is not unusual at all, it IS unusual that those apps seem to be deployed in an A/B way to a bunch of users while other are not affected yet — without explicit permission. Once being deployed on the Windows 10-system, they also appear in the „Programs and Features“-setting where the installed programs and apps are enlisted. We already know that — even in a fresh Windows 10-installation created with the Media Creation Tool — there is plenty of bloatware like pre-installed Office stuff, Candy Crush and similar games etc. being deployed from the scratch.

Anyway, even if the web is taking over more and more features from classical Desktop-applications and especially Chromebooks for example are working in a similar way, it would be great to be asked before an OS-vendor places any kind of additional software on a specific system. While the single URLs for the PWAs are indeed targeting to https://excel.office.com/, https://powerpoint.office.com/ or https://outlook.com/, a little bit of prior information about this new chapter of eerie Windows 10-publicity would have been nice. Personally I like the idea of a web-based wrapper even on systems I don’t want to install the Desktop-versions but hey — at least some kind of choice would have been fair, wouldn’t it?

Different sources have already reached out to Microsoft but have not heard back anything at the time of writing. I could reproduce this kind of deployment on my eldest daughter’s ASUS notebook while the Lenovo All-in-One of our second daughter (both running the May-update Build 2004) remained untouched. Until further clarification, the PWAs may then be seen and defined as PUAs — Potentially Unwanted Applications!

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Dad. IT-Guy. Cloud-Addict. Apple at Home, Windows at Work, Linux in between. Convinced -Fanboy. Metal-, USA- and UK-Lover. Traveler. Photographer. Maverick.

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