Microsoft to Push 'Edge WebView2' Runtime to PCs
Back in February of this year, Microsoft added an item to their Microsoft 365 Roadmap that may very well be of interest to you as a Microsoft 365 Administrator. That’s because starting April 1st, 2021, Microsoft will start pushing the Edge WebView2 Runtime (EWR) to Windows PCs running the Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise version 2101 or later. First off, you should always take notice when Microsoft will be pushing or releasing updates or software onto your users’ PCs. But, as is often the case, there are controls to slow down or postpone this rollout. Let’s get some details about what’s happening, the when, and what the end-user impact will be.
“Microsoft 365 Apps is starting to provide new or improved features that rely on Microsoft Edge WebView2,” explains a post in the Microsoft 365 Admin Message Center. “For example, the Room Finder and the Meeting Insights features in Outlook. WebView2 uses Microsoft Edge as a rendering engine to display web-based features in a desktop application. By making use of WebView2, we can more easily provide your users with Office features that look and feel the same across device platforms. In turn, this consistent experience helps your users to learn and use those features without having to learn the nuances of Office on each device platform.”
So, unless your users’ computers have WebView2 installed in some fashion, the Microsoft 365 Apps won’t be able to take advantage of these new features. This is why Microsoft will begin rolling out this Runtime starting April 1st, 2021. Bear in mind, however: Only PCs that are running the Microsoft 365 Apps version 2101 or later will be impacted.
An easy way to know if your organization will be impacted is to answer this question: Are any of your users subscribed to the Current Channel? This is the Channel that receives a build with new features once a month. If no, you won’t be impacted come April 2021. That’s because only users on the Current Channel will have received version 2101 (January 2021) or later. The Semi-Annual Enterprise Channel is likely more prevalent in your organization. The next version that will include and require WebView2 will be in July. If, however, you happen to be on the Monthly Enterprise Channel, I would estimate your users will start to see impact come April or May of 2021.
Say Goodbye to Traditional PC Lifecycle Management
Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
Starting on April 1, 2021, users with Apps version 2101 or later will start to receive the Runtime.
- WebView2 Runtime doesn’t install the full Microsoft Edge browser on the device and doesn’t require Microsoft Edge to be installed.
- When WebView2 Runtime is installed on the device, no change is made to the user’s default browser selection.
Note – Incidentally, Microsoft is also planning to upgrade the legacy Microsoft Edge with the new Edge during April Patch Tuesday – April 13, 2021.
If you need to postpone the installation of WebView2 Runtime or your organization has specific limitations regarding deploying it, you can turn off the automatic installation by going to the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center (https://config.office.com) – Here’s a link to provide you with more detail.