Naughty Microsoft: Edge gets caught installing Office web apps without asking

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft’s Edge browser is reportedly stealthily installing the firm’s Office web apps on Windows 10 PCs, or at least those being used by Windows Insiders who test preview builds of the OS.

Normally, the Office web apps (which are free PWAs or Progressive Web Apps) are available to install in your browser (like Edge, or rivals such as Chrome), and users signed into a Microsoft account can elect to take advantage of them. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook are available as PWAs.

However, as Windows Latest reports, at least some testers using preview versions of Windows 10 have found that four of these apps (all of the above, with the exception of OneNote) have been quietly installed on their system complete with shortcuts in the Start menu. This happened on devices used by Windows Latest, too, as of October 11.

The theory is that Microsoft Edge is the avenue by which these PWAs are being visited on testers’ PCs, because these apps are listed as installed applications under Edge settings. In much the same way that Google Docs, Sheets and Slides are listed as installed apps under Chrome – and indeed are automatically installed for users of that browser.

Opting out

It is, of course, possible to remove the Office web apps from your machine, and you can uninstall them via Programs & Features in the Control Panel. Similarly, you can remove the G Suite apps in Chrome, but you’re opting out in both cases, rather than choosing to opt in – with the latter currently being the case when it comes to Microsoft’s apps.

So, assuming the report is on the money, this is something of a sneaky change by Microsoft, even if it isn’t any different to what its big rival Google gets up to. Although we must underline that right now, the new scheme of things with the Office PWAs is just being tested by Microsoft, and may never see the light of day when it comes to the release versions of Windows 10 or Edge.

As always with changes which are experimental and being explored, we’ll just have to wait and see if they come to fruition. Meantime, we have contacted Microsoft and asked for a comment on what’s going on with Windows 10 here, and we will update this story with any response.

Microsoft Edge has been pretty well-received, generally speaking, although the company has run the risk of annoying folks with its many different pushes to promote the web browser.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).