Microsoft Tests Ads in Windows 11 Start Menu to Promote Store Offerings

Microsoft Tests Ads in Windows 11 Start Menu to Promote Store Offerings
Microsoft tests new ad strategies in the Windows 11 Start Menu, introducing prompts for Microsoft services to increase engagement and visibility of its store offerings.

Microsoft is currently testing a new advertising approach in the Windows 11 Start Menu, aiming to enhance the visibility of its store offerings and services. This move has introduced “badging” treatments in the user interface, specifically targeting users with local accounts and encouraging them to switch to a Microsoft Account (MSA).

The test involves displaying various prompts within the Start Menu’s sign-out flyout, which encourage users to sign in or create an MSA to enjoy additional features like device backup and access to cloud storage. This includes prompts for free trials of Microsoft 365 and suggestions to use OneDrive for file storage. The objective behind these ads is to integrate more seamlessly with the user’s daily operations and to present the benefits of Microsoft’s services directly where users interact with the system settings​​.

Critically, these changes have raised concerns among users regarding the intrusion of advertising into what are typically utility-focused areas of the operating system. The placement of ads in the Start Menu, a central hub for navigation and system controls, has been perceived as invasive by some, prompting discussions about user experience and the balance between service promotion and user interface cleanliness.

Microsoft has offered an option within Windows settings to disable these ads, acknowledging that while the strategy aims to inform and encourage the use of Microsoft services, user choice remains paramount. This feature is part of broader efforts by Microsoft to monetize its operating system while also promoting its ecosystem of products and services​.

The feedback from these tests, particularly from the Dev Channel of Windows Insiders, will likely influence whether these features will become permanent and how they might be adjusted before a broader rollout. Microsoft’s history of integrating promotional content within its operating systems suggests that user feedback and acceptance will be critical in determining the approach’s future trajectory​​.

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Shweta Bansal

Shweta, a tech journalist from New Delhi, specializes in AI and IOT. Her insightful articles, featured in leading tech publications, blend complex tech trends with engaging narratives, emphasizing the role of women in tech.

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