Windows 10 20H2: Does Microsoft install Office PWAs again?

[German]Question: Did Microsoft install PWAs for Office Online under Windows 10 (version 20H2) again without your permission? I have received a corresponding message and I would like to get an idea of whether we have experienced an isolated case or once again 'a regrettable mistake by Microsoft'.


The unwelcome installed Office Online Apps

The topic has a history. In early October 2020, a blog reader pointed out to me that entries for Microsoft Office apps such as Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word suddenly appeared in his Windows 10, version 2004 , even though he had nothing installed. I had covered that within the blog post Windows 10 shows suddenly installed Office Apps like Excel. Below is a screenshots from this article.

Windows 10: Programm-Liste
(Office Apps in Windows 10)

It quickly became clear that it was Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) that were installed by the Edge and referred to the respective Office online modules. The entries referred to:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft\Edge\Application

The PWAs are called via the new module msedge_proxy.exe. The PWAs can be used to open the corresponding Office online apps for displaying Office documents, but required a Microsoft account. The PWA icons appear in the Start menu and can be pinned to the taskbar.


Soon there was an information via 'informal channels' that the whole thing was planned but the installation under Edge got out of hand due to a bug. Contacts at Microsoft had told US journalist Mary Foley at the time that Redmond was planning to introduce the migration for Office Online in Windows 10 in the future, but would stop the introduction of this "feature" for the time being. The developers will try to find out in October 2020 how to handle the whole thing correctly so that the PWAs are not installed under Windows 10 for the Edge by force. I had published details within the blog post Bug or Feature: Why Microsoft Office forcibly installed PWAs in Windows 10b-Test?.

Office-PWA-Installation in Windows 10 20H2

I've published also the article Microsoft installiert ungefragt Office-PWAs unter Windows 10 at German IT magazine heise. German reader Axel A. contacted the heise editorial office on November 11, 2020 and described the following observation:

Windows 10 Update 20H2 delights users with Online Office

when running the 20H2 update, the user is forced to install Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook 1.0 This replaces the icons of an Office 2019 installed on Premise – at least when using open shell, so that the user can only access his correct applications via the input line.

Is this kind of forced gratification allowed without any advice or consultation?
What is Microsoft's position on this?
I would be very grateful if you could look into this.

The heise-editors directed the reader to my article Microsoft installiert ungefragt Office-PWAs unter Windows 10 and added the note 'that Microsoft has suspended the publication of the PWAs'. On closer look, however, the facts of the matter differ, because my articles and the text above referred to Windows 10, version 2004 – Windows 10, version 20H2 was not released to the public in early October 2020. The reader then answered:

stopped isn't true, because yesterday (Nov. 10, 2020) it was still acute (yesterday evening around 9 pm MS distributed the updates in the same way.

The big problem with simply uninstalling is no fun anymore with about 200 maintained machines in different environments without central update management.

And that's when the editors of heise sent me the correspondence with a reader to follow up on the issue. The facts are clear: it's unmanaged environments that the user manages – whether it's systems with Windows 10 Home, Pro or Enterprise is not clear exactly. But the PWAs were distributed via Windows Update under Windows 10 version 20H2 and replaced the icons of a Microsoft Office 2019 Premium Plus. So exactly the same crap as described in October for Windows 10 Version 2004. Question: Is anyone else affected or did you notice that?

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Windows 10 shows suddenly installed Office Apps like Excel
Bug or Feature: Why Microsoft Office forcibly installed PWAs in Windows 10b-Test?

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One Response to Windows 10 20H2: Does Microsoft install Office PWAs again?

  1. EP says:

    the revised 20H2 KB4562830 EP release earlier this Dec. 2020 included MS Edge 85.0.564.67, which include those "buggy" Office PWAs

    only way to get rid of those Office PWAs was to remove Edge 85 by running its setup.exe file from the Installer folder with the " –uninstall –system-level –verbose-logging –force-uninstall" switches as described here:

    then manually delete the Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint & Word start menu shortcuts from either the "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs" or "C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs" folder.

    too bad MS did not include the later 86 or early 87 versions of MS Edge in the KB4562830 EP packages, which do not have those Office PWAs

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