The most recent Windows 11 update from Microsoft, which went live on Tuesday, includes a lighter taskbar in addition to a few other bug and compatibility changes. Oh, and there is one tiny more detail. A "small" percentage of Windows 11 users will now receive "notifications" when they click on the Windows Start Menu urging them to utilise other Microsoft products. The update is already being criticised by many Windows users as yet another attempt by Microsoft to cram more native advertisements into its operating system.
When users click on the Windows button on the desktop, these definitely-not-ads appear as a form of promotion, requesting people to, for example, "Back up your files." Users are enticed to join up for Microsoft's cloud backup service by clicking the "Start backup" button, which launches OneDrive (you receive 5GB of OneDrive data for free, but that's not enough for a full backup). The text for the promos can be seen just above a user's sign-out and account settings options in a short screenshot that Microsoft published.
The notifications are now only being distributed to a select audience, but according to Microsoft's Windows 11 preview release, they will be "more broadly distributed in the coming months." The few people who are experiencing these pop-ups in their task bar are being asked for input by the company.
These non-ads have been anticipated for a while. Back in November of last year, the Windows beta user Albacore tweeted the first mention of these OneDrive promotions on the Start menu. These screenshots also demonstrated Microsoft's consideration of encouraging users to create a Microsoft account here.
Users of the Windows 11 beta have provided screenshots that suggest Microsoft might go beyond simply adding "notifications" to the Start menu. Florian, a Windows Insider, sent a screenshot of a file explorer advertisement that promoted Microsoft Editor towards the top. Microsoft has long attempted to advertise goods like its Edge browser inside the Windows 10 Start menu and File Explorer, as BleepingComputer noted last month.
Microsoft has been attempting to place its software suite front and centre on its operating system, despite some versions providing obvious OS benefits, such as tabs on File Explorer and a native video editor. The business integrated its Bing AI straight into the Windows 11 taskbar in February. Additionally, the OS has added a bothersome watermark to any PC that doesn't meet its certified specifications.
At this point, Microsoft's best course of action would be to just respect its consumers' decision to utilise a service that is worthwhile. We don't want to live in a day when Windows bombards users with advertisements for services they won't ever utilise, especially because Windows 12 is still in the future. If Microsoft decides to end their "wait for every other OS release" streak in what might happen as soon as 2024, it would be a real pity.