Microsoft is testing the automatic installation by its new Edge browser of a number of its core Office apps as Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), according to reports. Microsoft appears to be testing this selectively among some Windows 10 Insider customers as of this past weekend via the Stable release of its Chromium-based Edge browser, as first reported by WindowsLatest.com.
PWAs are web sites and/or web apps that behave like native apps but live inside of a browser window.
Windows Latest reporters said they noticed that Microsoft had installed without their permission PWA versions of Excel, Outlook, Word and PowerPoint, all of which were listed in their Start menus. BleepingComputer.com also said Microsoft is forcibly installing Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook PWAs into the new Edge and registering them with Windows 10 for some users. Users have the option of uninstalling the PWAs through the Programs and Features setting page in Microsoft Edge or the Windows 10 control panel.
Up until this point, Microsoft has made installing Outlook as a PWA a user-controlled option for Windows 10 users. Users also have the option of installing the Office app for Windows 10 (the successor to the "My Office" app) as a PWA if they so choose.
I asked Microsoft for comment as to why the company is doing this and whether it intends to make this a permanent practice. No word back so far.
In related news, the PWA Builder team is working with Microsoft's Edge team so as to enable Edge-based PWAs in the Microsoft Store. The PWA Builder team tweeted today that "we're almost there."
Update (October 16): I've been hearing from more people via Twitter who are seeing Office PWAs automatically installed on their Windows 10 machines. These are people running non-Insider Windows 10 builds and stable versions of Edge, which seems to imply this is not an experiment. I've asked Microsoft several times for a response on what's going on over the past two days and have received no information from the company.