A hot potato: It's no secret that Microsoft really, really wants people to use Windows 11. What's the best way to achieve this goal? Judging by the latest dev build, more Start Menu ads that harass people who don't sign in with an official Microsoft account.
Reports arrived in November of Microsoft testing ads, or "notifications," in a Windows 11 Preview Build's Start Menu; Microsoft products appeared in the flyout screen above the Change Account Settings. One of the ads prompted users to back their files up to OneDrive, while another suggests users sign up for a Microsoft Account.
Do we really need to stuff OneDrive promos in the user session flyout? Anything for that sweet sweet KPI ðÂÂ pic.twitter.com/ZsQGmkntDS– Albacore (@thebookisclosed) November 6, 2022
News of the ads brought plenty of justified anger, but not enough to make Microsoft rethink its plans. The Redmond company started sending them out to a few users in March's KB5023778 Preview Build and expanded the practice in last week's Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23435.
The four ads/notifications are focused on encouraging those who log in with a local account to sign up for an official Microsoft account. They extol the benefits of being able to back up a device, use Microsoft 365, keep security and profile settings in one place, and receive 5GB of free cloud storage for accessing files on the move.
Not surprisingly, Microsoft continuing to force these ads on people has been met with almost universal condemnation. "This is what a monopoly is like adding in things to trick and inconvenience you," wrote one Reddit user (via The Reg). "Whoops I just pushed an update that sets your browser to Edge, have ads as notifications and Teams and OneDrive unable to be removed from the system."
Not everyone has been critical of the ads. One person noted that they would rather put up with these notifications than see Windows turn into a subscription model. Others have pointed out that advertisements for OneDrive appeared in Windows 8 and 10, so this isn't anything new on Microsoft's part – not that it makes it okay.
Not all features that appear in preview builds end up in the full release, but Microsoft is really pushing these ads hard and has been for months now, so it seems we'll probably be getting them soon, whether people like it or not.
In other Windows 11 news, we've heard this month that Microsoft could change the Print Screen key's function to open the snipping tool in the OS. The company is also thinking about letting users force-close apps from the taskbar, and is testing an Edge feature that adds a second taskbar to the desktop (Windows 11 and 10).