Microsoft is testing ads for its services in Windows 11

Facepalm: If there’s one thing Windows 11 could use, it’s ads appearing in the operating system, no one other than Microsoft has said. The Redmond firm appears to be testing a feature in preview builds that displays advertisements for its services in the drop-down menu, where users can log out or lock the system.

Twitter user Albacore posted screenshots showing ads and promotions for Microsoft products appearing in the flyout above the Change account settings option in the latest Windows preview build 11. One of the ads prompts users to back up their files to OneDrive, while another suggests users sign up for a Microsoft account.

Brandon LeBlanc, Senior Program Manager of the Windows Insider Program Team, responded to the Tweet, pointing out that Microsoft is only experimenting with certain versions of this feature with Windows Insiders. He also noted that users had already been informed of this in a post last month.

However, that notification consists of a bullet point under the Changes and Improvements section that reads: “We are trying out a small Start Menu tweak where some insiders will see a badge on their user profile notifying them that certain actions need to be taken. Even by Microsoft’s standards for verbal chicanery, it’s hard to imagine anyone thinking that phrase translates to ad implementation. The fact that the feature uses the same orange indicator as Windows system alerts also annoys users.

To be fair to LeBlanc, he admitted that Microsoft could have communicated the change better, possibly including a screenshot. But that’s unlikely to appease people at this point, especially if this test makes its way into production builds.

Ads in Windows aren’t something new, of course. Windows 10’s Start menu contains them, though they can be removed, and Microsoft has previously run full-size ads for Edge. You may also remember that Microsoft tested ads for its services in a preview version of Windows 11 earlier this year. This caused a lot of outrage, but LeBlanc said it was an experimental banner not intended for external posting.

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