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More ads in Windows 11 Start Menu could be last straw for some

Others are resigned to inevitability and argue it's better than a subscription

Microsoft is looking for user feedback on ads it's putting into the Windows 11 Start Menu for its products and services. If responses on Reddit is any indication, the response hasn't been great.

The software vendor has for months been playing around with putting ads – or at least in the case of the Start Menu, notifications – about its services in the operating system as well as the Bing search engine, PCs, and other products.

Talk of such notifications in the Start Menu began circulating in November 2022. In March, with the KB5023778 preview build, Microsoft began sending them out to a few users, with the promise the practice would be more widely deployed in the following months.

With the Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23435 that was dropped into the Dev Channel late last week, the company is "continuing the exploration of badging on the Start menu with several new treatments for users logging in with local user accounts to highlight the benefits of signing in with a Microsoft account (MSA)," Amanda Langowski, principal product manager for the Windows Insider Program, and Brandon LeBlanc, senior program manager at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post.

And it's all about signing up for a Microsoft account, with messages stressing such advantages as the ease of backing up the device, personalizing the security settings, and accessing data from anywhere. Also, an account means getting Microsoft 365 – and all the cloud-native benefits – for free.

Langowski and LeBlanc reiterated that Redmond uses the Dev Channel to try out various concepts to get comments. They could also find some feedback from users on Reddit, many of whom are not happy about the idea.

"This is what a monopoly is like adding in things to trick and inconvenience you," one user wrote. "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."

They added: "Honestly I want them to continue adding this … because the more they do it the more likely Windows will drive people elsewhere like the Chromebooks, Linux... etc. Legacy software will only keep people around for so long, enterprise will probably stick around for a long time but average consumers can do other things."

"The moment I see ads in the OS that I can't disable I'm out," another wrote. "Tech is supposed to empower us, not capture us."

That said, opinions about this are not universally negative. Having a couple of ads pop up on occasion is better than the alternative, one user noted.

"Thinking realistically, every software I use with the notable exception of Windows and DaVinci Resolve switched to a subscription model. If Microsoft doesn't do that and pushes its OneDrive and 365 subs via the task bar every now and then I'm personally okay with that. Better than paying $$$ every month just to use the OS."

Others noted that there have been ads in both Windows 8 and 10 that hawked OneDrive, so what Microsoft is doing with Windows is nothing new and surprising, they said. And the ads are inevitable, another wrote.

"With how weak the public is these days I honestly don't see enough people making a fuss long enough for anything to be done, and this is going to become a norm," they wrote. "It probably won't be as bad after they figure out the kinks, but it's gonna stay here forever with how people are." ®

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