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Following the announcement from Microsoft recently that from version 2002, Office 365 ProPlus will be altering Chrome’s default search engine to Bing to “provide the benefits of Microsoft Search in the browser to those end users” lots of users on Reddit and other platforms have been looking to preempt this wreaking havoc on their clients. Lucky for you, there are numerous ways that you can achieve this!

When will this happen?

Depending on your Update Channel, updates could be released as early as February. Check out the table below.

Update ChannelRelease Date
Monthly Channel (Targeted)Mid-February
Monthly ChannelEarly March
Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)March 10th
Semi-Annual ChannelJuly 14th

Requirements

You can download the latest ADMX Files from here and the Office Deployment Tool from here

Method 1: Group Policy

Using the above ADMX files, you can import the policy into Group Policy and create a policy to prevent the update from deploying Bing. Once imported, enable the “Don’t install extension for Microsoft Search in Bing that makes Bing the default the search engine” setting. This setting is located under:

Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Microsoft Office 2016 (Machine)\Updates

Method 2: Registry

You can add a registry key to each computer with relative ease. ConnectWise Automate can also help with this. The registry key to be added is:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\office\16.0\common\officeupdate
"preventbinginstall"=dword:00000001

To use Automate to help with this, Browse to Automation > Scripts and create a new script. You could create the script a few different ways, but here’s what I’d do:

Create an EDF (Extra Data Field) at the computer level named ‘Disable Bing’ with checkbox value.

Change the IF value in the script to ‘Registry Check’ and use it to check if the Registry Key exists and set it to check the EDF if true.

Under the ELSE section, add a script function called Registry Set and have it create the DWORD

Method 3: PowerShell

This could also be included in an Automate script if necessary. This PowerShell script was created by AdminDroid and not myself, however, it works perfectly. Within Automate’s script, you can use the PowerShell Command or PowerShell Command as Admin

$RegistryPath = "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Common\Officeupdate"

$Name = "preventbinginstall"
$value = "00000001"

if(!(Test-Path $RegistryPath))
{
 Write-Host Office 365 Pro Plus not available -ForegroundColor Yellow
}
else
{
 New-ItemProperty -Path $registryPath -Name $name -Value $value -PropertyType DWORD -Force | Out-Null
 Write-Host Successfully added registry key to prevent Bing install in Chrome -ForegroundColor Green
}

Method 4: InTune

If you’re deploying Office 365 ProPlus via InTune, you can disable Bing via the Configure App Suite pane. The checkbox option Set default search engine to Microsoft Search in Bing can be unticked.

Method 5: Office Deployment Tool

Using the Office Deployment Tool, you can simply update your configuration.xml file to look like the following:

<Configuration>
   <Add OfficeClientEdition="64" Channel="Monthly">
      <Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
       <Language ID="en-us" />
       <ExcludeApp ID="Bing" />
      </Product>
   </Add>
</Configuration>

This is going to be a base template to use for future deployments to ensure that you’re excluding this feature during installation.

Final Thoughts

This update has been scaring users online. The thought that the Office suite is making changes to other non-related software applications (not even owned by Microsoft) is odd. If you’re likely to have clients that are going to be affected by this that you cannot automate a fix for, it might be worth creating a step by step guide for them on how to change this back themselves after the update. There are also Group Policy ADMX files for Chrome that you can implement (also works via InTune but not very cleanly) that you can force Chrome settings on. The support and download information on this is here.

A Reddit user has also created a UserVoice for this, you can vote on this here

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