Amid the recent deal-centric content cycle, news of another Microsoft product cancellation snuck out. Admittedly, compared to some, the news of killing off the Microsoft 365 browser extension in January 2024 is fairly small, but it's still left a sour taste in my mouth.
Why? Because I feel like it's another hostility towards people who don't use Microsoft Edge. There's been no reason communicated as to why it's being shut down, and by all accounts it still has millions of users. It's one of the most recently updated Microsoft-offered extensions, and the alternative solution for non-Edge users, honestly, reeks.
I feel like it's Microsoft intentionally making the product harder to use in Google Chrome. Which is foolish, if for no other reason than Chrome's ridiculous market share. We know Microsoft really wants people to use Edge, and it's a fantastic browser. But I can't shake the feeling of hostility, once again, behind this and the browser you could be choosing to use.
What's happening with the Microsoft 365 extension, and what do Google Chrome users do next?
As reported, from January 15, 2024, the Microsoft 365 browser extension will be retired. If you still have it installed, it appears like it'll still work, but with no further feature or security updates, and no bug fixes. Support is finished, and Microsoft is recommending its users remove the extension.
If you use Microsoft Edge, no drama, Microsoft 365 is built right into it and there's no need for the extension anyway. But if you're on Google Chrome (or other non-Edge Chromium browsers) the alternative is to "bookmark the website." Which is ridiculous, because that is in no way a replacement for the functionality offered by this extension. A bookmark doesn't give you quick access to recent files, does it?
It's somewhat inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but Microsoft's post on what's happening here also directs Chrome users to perhaps install a couple of alternative extensions which are both old, and as far as I can tell, redundant. I could be wrong there, but something just feels very lazy.
Another attempt to make people use Edge?
I hate the browser wars. I hate the browser wars more even than the console wars. I get it, Microsoft and Google both want your eyeballs in their browsers for their own respective gains. But surely when it comes to Microsoft 365, keeping paying customers happy should be a priority? I'm quite possibly looking way too deeply at this, but it feels like another hostile, feeble attempt to trumpet Edge being the best place for something else.
Microsoft Edge is a great browser. It really is, and I truly believe that if more people tried it, they'd love using it. But the way Microsoft continues to go about getting attention for Edge rarely shows it off in its best light. There have been far too many instances where Edge is linked with frustrating Windows users or generating questionable headlines. In this case, Microsoft is actively making using one of its products worse for a lot of people.
Given it seems to have over 10 million downloads, and Google Chrome occupies over 60% of the browser market share, it doesn't take getting too creative with the numbers to assume most of those downloads are being used in Chrome. So why on earth would Microsoft consciously make its customer's experience more difficult?! I just don't get it.
Something like this won't get people switching to Edge. It could make some evaluate whether they're going to keep using Microsoft 365 over switching to Google's office suite, though.
And yet, Microsoft 365 is getting BETTER on Chromebooks!
On the edge of all this, Microsoft is actually working with Google and making access to Microsoft 365 on Chromebooks better. Google Chrome the browser has more users than Chrome OS, but on one hand Microsoft giveth and with the other taketh away.
Even before it's readily available, Microsoft 365's improved integration with Chrome OS is excellent. I've written a guide on setting it up and integrating OneDrive with the native Files app on Chromebooks, and it works well. The other part is that it installs the Microsoft 365 web app for you and everything is set up, logged in and ready to use.
The popularity of Chromebooks in education and enterprise is likely one of the drivers behind this, but it would certainly be a stretch to say its existence is one of the reasons to kill the extension. Unless Microsoft actually said that it was one of the reasons for killing the extension. But Microsoft hasn't really said anything.
Ultimately, I'm not particularly pleased about this. I use Microsoft 365 and I move between Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, and now Microsoft is making it harder to use a service I'm paying for in one of those browsers.
I'm curious, though. If this shutdown is going to affect you, what's your take, and what are you going to do next? Hit the comments below and let me know.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine
Why? The extension is going away for both Chrome and Edge. Why not say "I feel like it's intentional to make using Microsoft 365 in Edge harder, and I don't like it"?Reply
Maybe MS has come to the conclusion that yet another sidebar/taskbar/whateverbar is not needed. The first thing I turn off in Edge is the Sidebar/CoPilot and all that junk.