[German]A little rumor why Windows 10 users have been forced to install PWAs for Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word in Windows 10 and have them pinned to the Start menu, even if an Office was installed In one sentence: The approach of Microsoft Marketing, who want to push Office, coupled with the lack of competence of the developers, a combination that rarely works well, has caused the mess.
What exactly is it all about?
In the blog post Windows 10 shows suddenly installed Office Apps like Excel, I had pointed out a week ago an observation of a German reader. On his Windows 10, entries for Microsoft Office apps such as Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word suddenly appeared, even though he had nothing installed. The reader did sent me the following screenshot with the installed apps.
One user confirmed this observation, adding that he had installed an Office 365 on the machine – which is why the new Office modules make no sense. In the course of further research, it turned out that it was Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) for the online versions of Office that were forcibly installed on Windows 10. The PWAs were registered under for file types and call the relevant Office online modules in a browser window with a minimal user interface without tabs and URL – requiring a login to the Microsoft account. However, the apps can be uninstalled.
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) is ultimately a web page packaged in the form of an app and then running in a browser. The app runs on a client, while a service worker provides the functionality of the website (here Office-Online).
Bleeping Computer, which I had contacted for my research, assumed, that this was an A/B test by Microsoft, although I have no idea who got the app – they haven’t arrived on my system yet. Inquiries from Bleeping Computer and ZDnet at Microsoft about what this is all about remained unanswered to my knowledge. Mary Foley, however, was given from her contacts at Microsoft a ‘secret’ explanation of what happened. Foley then published this article on ZDNet.
A Feature and a Bug
The auto-installation of the Office PWAs is partly intended and partly a mistake, Foley writes in the ZDNet article and refers to her sources at Microsoft. The intended feature is that Microsoft links Start menu entries in Windows 10 to the Office web applications if no Office is installed on the machine. Marketing wants to push its Office 365 as widely as possible. When such an entry is selected, a tab with the Office online application should be opened in the browser.
With the new Edge, PWAs can be used (and also managed) to launch the desired web pages when the Start menu entry is selected in the Microsoft Edge. The PWAs open a window with a new minimal browser interface that hides the tabs, address bar, and other browser components. The whole thing then behaves like an app, but in the background the user uses the Office online module.
The forced installation was probably unintentional, even if a Microsoft Office was already installed on the machine. By updating to the Chromium-based Edge, a bug seems to have crept in that caused this forced installation, Foley says. Instead of just attaching the website to the tiles, the start menu entries were linked to an application (PWA).
The developers don’t know what’s going on with their own stuff and probably don’t really test the whole thing anymore. So Foley’s contacts at Microsoft let her know, that Redmond plans the migration of Office Online in Windows 10 in the future, but will stop the introduction of this “feature” for the time being. The developers are currently trying to figure out how to handle it properly so that the PWAs are not forced to be installed on Windows 10 for the Edge. Foley emphasizes that this is not an official Microsoft statement and quotes their informants as saying that any user who has been forced to install the PWAs can uninstall them via Edge or Control Panel.