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


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

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(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.

 

 

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

 

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Naughty Microsoft: Edge gets caught installing Office web apps without asking Reportedly happening to testers using preview builds of Windows 10 (Image credit: M

Microsoft is performing a test where they are installing a suite of Office progressive web apps in Windows 10 without asking permission from the user.     A progressive web app, o

Give  it  5 years  and  Microsoft will  be done   pulled a Google Chrome OS  and have everybody living in there Edge Browser .They  have UWP  and they  testing PWA   in the EDGE browser   . LOL  this

Microsoft is performing a test where they are installing a suite of Office progressive web apps in Windows 10 without asking permission from the user.

 

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A progressive web app, or PWA, is an application designed to be delivered via the web without installing executables on the computer.

 

When launched, PWAs will be shown in a browser window that displays a minimal browser interface to feel like the web app is running as an independent application.

Microsoft forcibly installs Office PWAs

Over the past week, Microsoft has been conducting a test where they have been forcibly installing Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlooks PWAs into Microsoft Edge and registering them with Windows 10.

 

This appears to be an A/B test, with only some users receiving the new PWAs.

s2BuZli.jpg

 

Office PWA apps forcibly installed in Microsoft Edge

 

As these are Microsoft Edge PWAs, they will also be registered with Windows 10 as applications that can be uninstalled through the Programs and Features settings, as seen below.

 

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PWAs installed in Windows 10 Programs and Features settings

 

When the PWAs are launched, they will open a minimalistic browser Windows and visit the web application's associated URL.

 

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Word progressive web app

 

The URLs for each PWA are listed below:

 

Microsoft has already offered PWAs for Microsoft Office, but they have been usually installed as a single Office PWA and an Outlook PWA, rather than separated into individual ones, as seen in this test.

 

Those who do not wish to have these PWAs installed can uninstall them directly in Microsoft Edge through the edge://apps URL or via the Programs and Features Settings page.

 

BleepingComputer has reached out to Microsoft to learn more about this test but has not heard back at this time.

 

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Give  it  5 years  and  Microsoft will  be done   pulled a Google Chrome OS  and have everybody living in there Edge Browser .They  have UWP  and they  testing PWA   in the EDGE browser   . LOL  this just confirms  UWP  is  almost as dead  as  as it was when it 1st came out on Windows 8 as Metro  .  The way that there headed  you will need Wine and Linux  to even run Legacy Windows   apps that  don't  run on  some paid service in the cloud  .Windows 10 is becoming more and more like a smartphone . Meanwhile  PC vendors  are shipping many Linux  Laptops with it preinstalled   even you save a little bit by buying them.   It's like there trying  to run people off Windows 10  ?

 

If  that was there plain it worked  on me because i never had used Linux tell I started having problems on Windows 10 in 2015 and Ive not used windows 10 in 3 years . Also  the whole thing about living in your browser  is unsafe  in this day and age because phishing  is the norm  the more services you use the more chance of you getting your  info stole  , banking account drained , or geting infected  by ransomware . Online Office   is always under attack . Even before everybody's head got stuck up in the cloud   it was  a security risk  now it a 100 times worse .

 

Using  office just gives you another set of vulnerabilities  you didn't already have .There  putting production apps and games in the cloud  so they can sell it as a service at the expense of the users security because windows run on the NT kernel. Its not Linux  were we  need to put our password in to get root .  Since most malware is written for Windows we can run this stuff in the cloud  and were not high risk. Most Linux Antivirus  is for servers that  handle files that are shared with windows it's more to protect Windows users.

 

Its nothing New for Microsoft its like they released Windows XP without a firewall tell SP2  came out  and catching viruses was normal  for a time 1990s trough the early 2000s  , Just like it normal to read about people getting infected with Ransomware  or  there info stole  in the  2010s and 2020s   The attackers have moved  from infecting the system and  attacking the system based software  to attacking  cloud based apps  just like Microsoft has moved in the cloud .  :clap:

Edited by steven36
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On 10/15/2020 at 8:59 PM, steven36 said:

Give  it  5 years  and  Microsoft will  be done

 

I don't think so.

 

In the corporate world, many offices and more government agencies are using Microsoft Windows. Even the ATMs are using a legally modified version of Windows.

 

I was in Asia before the Covid-19 pandemic triggered global lockdowns and was surprised to find that government agencies, hospitals and government-run clinics all use Windows.

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3 hours ago, zookini said:

 

I don't think so.

 

In the corporate world, many offices and more government agencies are using Microsoft Windows. Even the ATMs are using a legally modified version of Windows.

 

I was in Asia before the Covid-19 pandemic triggered global lockdowns and was surprised to find that government agencies, hospitals and government-run clinics all use Windows.

What does that have to do with what i  said? you  only quoted  will be done  i didn't say  they be done as a company i said they will be done pulled a  Google Chrome OS   also hospitals  and goverment  have been infected with ransomware too . There doing a poor job at protecting them the most  .

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Microsoft just force restarted my Windows PC again to install more unwanted apps

The latest proof you don’t own your Windows 10 computer

windows_app_icons_pwa_office.0.jpg

 

I stepped away from my computer for dinner, halfway through writing a story for The Verge. When I got back, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

 

Windows 10 had restarted my computer without permission yet again — to install yet another forced OS update onto my solid state drive.

 

The craziest part: When my machine finished rebooting, it now contained the exact thing I’d been writing about before I was rudely interrupted. Microsoft had installed unsolicited, unwanted web app versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook onto my computer.

 

A screenshot of the web apps that Microsoft force-installed on my PC.
Seriously, the story you’re reading right now started off as a news post about this happening to other people.
Screenshot: Sean Hollister/The Verge

 

OK, it’s not as bad as when my entire computer screen got taken over by an unwanted copy of Microsoft Edge. That was truly egregious.

 

No, this time Microsoft is merely sneaking unwanted web apps onto my PC — and using my Windows 10 Start Menu as free advertising space. Did I mention that icons for Microsoft Office apps have magically appeared in my Start Menu, even though I’ve never once installed Office on this computer?

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My new Start Menu contains shortcuts to Microsoft apps I’ve never installed
Screenshot: Sean Hollister/The Verge

 

These aren’t full free copies of Office, by the way. They’re just shortcuts to the web version you could already access in any web browser of your choice, which double as advertisements to pay for a more fully featured copy.

 

Because they’re web apps, it’s not like they take up any space on my computer, and I don’t really mind them in my Start Menu. They’re among the least offensive bloatware I’ve seen, and I never really look at the Start Menu anyhow — my taskbar and search bar have long been enough for me.

 

Nonetheless, they’re the latest proof that Microsoft doesn’t respect your ownership of your own PC, the latest example of Microsoft installing anything it likes in a Windows update up to and including bloatware, and the latest example of Microsoft caring more about the bottom line than whether a few people might lose their work when Windows suddenly shuts down their PC. Luckily, I didn’t lose any work today, but a friend of mine recently did:

 

 

Microsoft seems to think our computers are free advertising space, a place where it can selfishly promote its other products — even though they were told roundly in the ‘90s that even bundling a web browser was not OK. Now, they’re bundling a browser you can’t uninstall, and a set of PWA web apps that launch in that same browser. (Yes, they fire up Edge even if you’ve set a different browser as default.)

 

As I’ve argued previously, decisions like this undermine the one good argument Microsoft actually has for mandatory updates — that they provide important security patches that keep computers (yours and others) safe. That’s a harder argument when the most visible difference after a new update is an attempt to make more money!

 

Like ZDNet veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley notes, this isn’t just an experiment happening to some Windows Insiders. I’m not signed up with the Windows Insider program on this PC. The company hasn’t deigned to respond to Foley’s requests for comment yet, but let’s see if that changes next week.

 

 

Microsoft just force restarted my Windows PC again to install more unwanted apps

 

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Microsoft ads Office Web Apps advertisement to Windows 10 PCs

 

If you run a recent Windows 10 PC, you may have noticed new listings for Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, or Word in the Start Menu or the list of installed programs, even if you did not install the programs. It happened yesterday on a stable Windows 10 PC running Windows 10 version 2004, and reports are all over the Internet that many users are affected.

 

One of the main problems is that Microsoft has not mentioned this at all; it did not make an announcement, not on the company's Windows Experience blog nor anywhere else to my knowledge. Users who notice the applications -- they are web links in fact but more about that later -- may wonder whether they are genuine or malicious in nature, and how on earth they landed on the system in first place.

 

office links installed windows 10

 

When you analyze the installed programs, you will notice several things:

  • The publisher is not Microsoft Corporation, but "Outlook", "PowerPoint", "Excel", and "Word".
  • All apps are listed with version 1.0, without size information, and with the same installation date.
  • Each app has a single dot as an icon.
  • All of them can be uninstalled.
  • When you check the file properties, you will notice that they are web shortcuts that use Microsoft Edge, e.g. "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\Edge\Application\msedge_proxy.exe" --profile-directory=Default --app-id=bjhmmnoficofgoiacjaajpkfndojknpb --app-url=https://outlook.com/

When you try to remove one of the listed programs, you will get a "remove from Microsoft Edge" prompt; this confirms that these apps are linked to Microsoft Edge.

 

remove from microsoft edge

 

A quick check of the installed apps section of Microsoft Edge confirms that these applications are listed in the browser, and can be removed from the browser with a click on the x-icon on the page.

 

remove apps edge

 

The shortcuts open Office Web Apps in a chromeless Microsoft Edge window on the desktop when executed. They appear genuine and not malicious.

 

Users who don't want these can uninstall the PWA apps from within Edge or using the Settings app / Programs Control Panel applet.

Closing Words

Adding programs to a user's device without consent or information is always problematic. While it has become second nature for Microsoft to add or remove apps from the operating system when feature updates get installed, adding these unrelated to any update installation is a new low for the company, especially when it is done without any communication on the company's part.

 

Users are left with finding out what happened and if the apps are genuine or not. While they are genuine, it is nothing more than pushing advertisement for the company's Office Web Apps to user systems.

 

It is easy enough to remove them again, but what is keeping Microsoft from re-adding them or adding other PWA links? Right, nothing at all.

 

 

Microsoft ads Office Web Apps advertisement to Windows 10 PCs

 

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