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Microsoft Begins Testing Advertisements in Windows 11 Start Menu

Microsoft Begins Testing Advertisements in Windows 11 Start Menu

Microsoft has initiated testing of advertisements within the Start menu of Windows 11, marking a significant change in user interface experience for its operating system. The tests include various promotional “badging” methods, aiming to encourage users to engage with Microsoft services like Microsoft 365 and to utilize their Microsoft accounts more actively.

These ad placements, referred to by Microsoft as “badging”, have started appearing to some users within the latest preview builds of Windows 11. The ads encourage actions such as signing into Microsoft accounts, using Microsoft 365, and increasing account security by personalizing settings. This initiative is part of a broader attempt by Microsoft to integrate promotional content directly into the operating system’s interface, a strategy it has employed in various forms over the past years.

In a recent update, the tech giant rolled out these changes to the Windows Insider Program’s Dev Channel, specifically in the Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23435. Participants in this program have started seeing various prompts encouraging them to use Microsoft products like Microsoft 365 or to sign into their Microsoft account for added benefits such as increased security and cloud storage access. The promotional content typically appears within the Start menu’s sign-out flyout and is intended to highlight the convenience and benefits of using Microsoft services.

The introduction of these ads has been met with mixed reactions. While Microsoft contends that these promotions are intended to enhance user experience by highlighting useful features and services, some users see them as intrusive. Despite the controversy, Microsoft is providing options to disable these ads, addressing user feedback about the desire for a less cluttered digital workspace.

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As Windows continues to evolve, the integration of ads into its core interfaces like the Start menu signals a potential shift in how operating systems might start to leverage native advertising. However, Microsoft is treading cautiously, likely mindful of the backlash from users who prefer a more ad-free environment. Users involved in the Windows Insider Program are particularly instrumental in this phase, as their feedback could determine how pervasive these ads become in future public releases of the operating system.

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