Windows are crowded with advertising and maybe it will be worse (comment)

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Excited insider Florian in the latest release of Windows 11 Insider Preview bumped on advertising in Windows Explorer. We cannot replicate the situation. It can be a hoax or a real anomaly in testing, where Microsoft touches as far as it can go. As unreal as the revealed ad may seem, let’s say one thing.

Windows ads are nothing new, and I do not defend Microsoft in that finding. It’s a paid product, so I don’t think it can complement it later and with ads in more and more places. If it sells a cheaper edition that you buy, with the system occasionally serving you advertising, so be it.

At the same time, there is an understandable effort to promote your own products that can be used in Windows. I think it’s about Microsoft found the right balancewhen he occasionally draws attention to the possibility of solving a specific scenario using a specific product, he just has to do it tastefully and it must not fall into a show of constant recommendations.

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And, of course, it would be great if Windows was best placed to clearly and unequivocally agree during installation that no ads may be displayed during use.

Editor in Windows Explorer

The above-mentioned advertisement does not represent a significant intervention in the environment of the Explorer, with a small information bar attracts Microsoft Editor. However, this is not a function that is relevant to file management. Editor is a technology included mainly in Office, but also in Outlook web, so it can use it for free. It helps to improve the writing of comments on the terms used, sentence structure, etc.

Microsoft has kept room for advertising in Windows Explorer since Windows 10 version 1703, when the preference appeared in the settings Show sync provider notifications. In 2016, we saw during testing how such an advertisement on OneDrive – you wouldn’t expect another service in a Microsoft product, would you? – she could look.

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She encouraged you to sign up for OneDrive, which can be used for free. The following year we saw a variant where the company called for an Office 365 subscription. I do not remember that these ads appeared in practice often and recently, but this possibility did not disappear even with the Eleven.

Overview of ads in Windows

Microsoft may dispose of its product as it sees fit, with all consequences. These include, at least in some cases, betraying customer trust, and at best, ads will only become an annoying element. (At best, of course, they’ll offer you a product that interests you.)

Windows 10 in particular has embarked on an advertising path, although to a lesser extent this has already been the case for Windows 8. I will try to summarize which advertisements, apart from the Explorer case mentioned above, found in Windows today:

  • During the initial setup after installing Windows 10/11, you are prompted to activate your Microsoft 365 subscription. This offer tends to return if you decline it. This seems to be related to upgrading to a new release of the system.
  • The Windows 10/11 Start menu contains up to 10 tiles or icons with programs that can be marked as advertisements. Click to install them. The number was increased from five in Windows 10 version 1607.
  • The Start menu sometimes suggests installing an application.
  • The lock screen displays “fun facts, tips, tricks, and more.” This does not apply if you set Spotlight on it.
  • In the past, Microsoft recommended the Edge on the taskbar, which had less vacuum than other browsers. It is uncertain whether these specific ads will still appear in Windows. At a minimum, Windows prevents you from setting another browser as the default. The company has previously experimented with various buzz, including that Edge is more secure than Firefox or Chrome. Once above the taskbar, she promoted her Chrome add-on, which compared prices.

Some cases are on the brink and it is not clear how much it is advertising and how much the system is linked to other services from the same manufacturer.

  • There is a OneDrive client in the basic Windows installation, which you can uninstall. It was first integrated by Osmičky in 2012.
  • Since the fall of 2020, an icon has appeared in the Tens notification area to quickly start or join a meeting via Skype. The communicator client is pre-installed on the system.
  • Windows 11 exchanged Skype for Teams, otherwise it is a similar case. The client is pre-installed and you control the service from the taskbar.
  • Applications like Mail prompt you to install mobile Outlook, but also to subscribe to Microsoft 365 if you don’t already have one.
  • Microsoft runs its services through widgets in Windows 11. For example, the e-mail status monitoring gadget does not support third-party e-mail services at all.
  • Windows 11 Home and, in short, Pro do not allow you to create a user account that is not linked to a Microsoft account.

The integration of the operating system with Microsoft services and products is not problematic in itself, the problem in my opinion is that these preferences or products in Windows are active or present by default.

So Windows doesn’t ask you if you want to turn these features on, only you can turn them off. I note that most of these ads can actually be turned off, only the preferences are scattered across the system. Furthermore, I would recommend to Microsoft not to display advertising offers repeatedly – one rejection should always be enough.

This trail is slipping

In the past, we’ve also seen one line crossing by Microsoft that should never happen. KB3146449 added an ad for a free upgrade to Windows 10 in a new bookmark space in Internet Explorer for Windows 7 and 8.1. But it was integrated into the critical security update KB3139929, which patched the software.

As a result, it was not possible to remove the ad without removing the patches. The patch file should remain a patch file, because without trust, some people can avoid patching, which will affect security. This is especially important for such key software, which is paid for and does not want to pit customers against each other.

So no, ads in Windows are not new. But this is a potentially dangerous path – from tolerable cases of connecting multiple products, the company can slip into more unpleasant cases of promotion, where the displayed advertisement will be only unrelated advertising without added value.

Resources: Florian / Twitter via Windows Latest | illCodeYouABrain / Reddit | KB4580386 / Windows suppport | | Rudy Huyn / Twitter | Tall_Ships_for_Life / Reddit | Tero Alhonen💙💛 / Twitter | VentureBeat | The Verge

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