Microsoft might be the market leader when it comes to desktop operating systems, but its aspirations for search have remained depressingly dismal. Currently, less than 3% of online searches are conducted via Microsoft’s Bing search engine, but the company is trying to bump that number up by any means necessary… apparently even spammy additions to its Outlook app on Android.
Some users who have Microsoft Outlook installed on their Android devices have noticed seeing a new option to perform a Bing search when selecting text. This isn’t just limited to text selected while in the Outlook app, and applies to pretty much any text selected system-wide. Microsoft is utilizing the contextual text selection feature introduced in Android Marshmallow that allows developers to add their own options to the menu that pops up when words are selected. XDA Developers Editor-in-Chief Mishaal Rahman uncovered code that mentions something about “Edge integration”, so it’s possible that the Bing search shortcut only shows up when Microsoft Edge is set as the default browser, although doing this doesn’t guarantee the shortcut will appear.
While Microsoft is just using a standard Android feature to its advantage here, it’s still a move that feels very spammy. It would be one thing if the Bing search option only showed up with the installation of the actual Bing search app, but including this with the seemingly unrelated Outlook app crosses the line. This isn’t the first time Microsoft has used Android features to sneak in ads for its own apps and services, either. Even though it only seems to be showing up for certain users right now, this is a scummy thing to do — I definitely won’t be using Bing after this. I mean, I didn’t use Bing before this, either… but still.