PWAs, progressive web applications , are a new type of web-based applications that we can install in Windows 10 to use them without depending on any executable program, only from the browser. Modern web browsers, such as Chrome or Edge, are already designed to allow users to create these PWAs for the services they want. And Microsoft has seen a new vein to promote its services through this type of progressive web applications, specifically Office.
PWAs have many advantages. Twitter, for example, has its own PWA that allows us to easily read the social network. When we run it, an instance of our default web browser opens with a minimal interface, that is, without bars or menus, which allow us to navigate the web or platform for which we have created this type of app. Broadly speaking, it works as an independent application, without tabs and without the possibility of going to other websites.
The problem comes when Microsoft takes advantage of this concept of applications to advertise its own services on Windows 10.
Edge installs and registers Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook as PWA
Without prior notice, Microsoft has been installing PWA apps on Windows 10 users’ computers for a week through its new Edge browser. Specifically, Microsoft is registering the free Office progressive web applications, that is, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, from the browser to a specific number of users. These applications are also registered in Windows, so they also appear installed in the System Settings menu.
These applications also appear, for example, in the Windows start menu, as if we had just installed them.
When we run these apps we will see a login window that will ask us to log in with our Microsoft Account. Once inside, we can start using the web versions of Office. These are the same as if we enter from any other browser to any of the following addresses:
- Word: https://word.office.com/
- Excel: https://excel.office.com/
- PowerPoint: https://powerpoint.office.com/
- Outlook: https://outlook.com/
At the moment, this is being an A / B test. In other words, not all users will see these apps automatically installed on their computers. No common pattern was found, so it could be somewhat random among users, although it could also be that the users most likely to receive these apps are Office 365 subscribers.
A dangerous feature in the hands of Microsoft
It is nothing new that Microsoft is very fond of advertising. And Windows 10 is an excellent platform to distribute it. Although it is true that the latest versions of Windows give us more control over advertisements and sponsored content, the company continues to use its operating system to carry out all kinds of software promotions.
Having a platform like Edge that allows any type of progressive web application to be installed remotely and without permission is anything but secure. Microsoft could open a new business model whereby companies who wanted could pay for their websites to appear on Windows computers in the form of PWAs.
It’s certainly scary. Hopefully this is not the case.