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Office PWAs installing without permission is a feature, not a bug ... kind of

Office 365 Home on Surface Go
Office 365 Home on Surface Go (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Office Progressive Web Apps were installed on some people's PCs without permission.
  • The automatic installation of Office PWAs results from a combination of a bug and a feature.
  • Microsoft is going to halt the rollout of the feature until it fixes the related bug.

Recently, several people spotted Microsoft Office Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) appearing on their Windows 10 PCs. These PWAs appeared without people granting permission or approval and required people to go through the Control Panel to remove them. Now, Mary Jo Foley reports for ZDNet on what's causing the automatic installations.

According to Foley, the PWAs automatically installing is the result of both a feature and a bug. Foley spoke with her contacts that are close to the situation, but Microsoft has not issued an official response.

On Windows 10, Microsoft has had pinned tiles for the Office web pages for some time if the Office desktop apps aren't installed on a PC. Since the latest version of Microsoft Edge supports installing websites as apps, the Office web apps should be managed by Microsoft Edge. The automatic installation issue is seemingly caused by Microsoft Edge linking the pinned sites to apps instead of just creating a pinned website.

According to Foley's sources, Microsoft will halt the rollout of the "feature" until the company sorts out the related issue.

It's important to note that while some people that saw the PWAs appear were Windows insiders, that the PWAs did not only appear on Insider PCs. The PWA versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook appeared on several Start Menus recently. In contrast to the shortcuts that appear when you install Windows 10, these PWAs were installed and required people to go to the Control Panel. While the PWAs need to be removed through the Control Panel, they don't take up any space on a PC since they're progressive web apps.

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

4 Comments
  • (/ヘ ̄、) oy vay. I wish Microsoft would just publish Word, Excel, and Onedrive PWAs to the Microsoft Store. But I guess that just makes too much sense? So much easier to point friends and family to the MS Store than it is to explain how to use "install this site as an app" in Edge.
  • Yeah I don't get this. It's a lot easier in Edge than Chrome to create Web Apps (it's really hidden in Chrome) but the Microsoft Store is a lot better place for them. It maybe confusing though as there are still UWP apps on the Store. The ones I doubt anyone uses anymore.
  • Well Microsoft Store isn't just for pure UWP apps, it also listing Win32 packaged as UWP and PWA apps (which is also packaged like UWP). So they can just also make it available from there as well. I think the actual confusing past is that Microsoft Store listing full Office 365 apps, though it's just a dumb listing as you don't download those through Microsoft Store, but just a mere link to a website. Currently there is a 3 Microsoft Office apps in 3 different app platforms. Win32, UWP (Office Mobile apps are still there but unlisted), and the PWA. This is a mess. Though I have a feeling that old UWP Office apps which weren't updated for so long except OneNote UWP will get replaced by PWA in the future. Win32 Office will still remains. Though they can really make that PWA app really feels and looks like pure UWP if there is no unused system title bar. Just like how UWP and Win32 office does which contains toolbars, search and other functionalities on the titlebar. Ideally there should be one flavour, but UWP is only exclusive to Windows 10 and even then certain UWP API may not be availbe in older version of Windows 10,at least depends if Office will utilise new APIs. So looks like they can't go with that yet. PWA is more universal, but it is still a long way in terms of features compared to Win32 flavour, it's just getting close to UWP.
  • Exactly this is happening: https://www.windowscentral.com/chromium-edge-pwas-way-microsoft-store