Some insider users of Windows 10 have suddenly noticed Office apps in their Start menu.
It is undeniable now. Microsoft is running trials to see how its new Edge browser can automatically install its core Office apps as Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). So says a number of reports from indistry insiders who have witnessed the phenomenon.
The beast of Redmond is testing this functionality selectively, however. The test installs are showing up among some Windows 10 Insider customers as of this past weekend. WindowsLatest.com reports that the stealth installs appear to be executed as part of the Stable release of Microsoft’s Chromium-based Edge browser.
PWAs are web-based apps that are accessible through your browsers, such as Chrome and Microsoft Edge. You can use Office web apps for free and they’re similar to Google’s web apps, which are installed by default in Google Chrome.
Last year, Microsoft launched Outlook on the Web as an easily installed PWA. Now they offer a total five core PWAs: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook.
Normally, you would need to install these web apps manually using Edge or Chrome and your Microsoft account. Until now, it seems.
Reports of the stealth trials are streaming in
The Windows Latest reporters said MS were installing 4 of the 5 core PWAs on their Windows 10 devices (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook). The apps were listed in their Start menus.
BleepingComputer.com also complained that Microsoft is “forcibly installing” the core PWAs into the new Edge for some users. They also noted, however, that users can uninstall the PWAs can be through the Programs and Features settings.
BleepingComputer also observed that this appears to be an A/B test. Microsoft is testing two variants of the PWA installs. They are installing the 4 core apps in one user group, and only the standard Outlook PWA in another.
So far, no one has been able to get Microsoft to officially comment on the tests.