As initially spotted by Windows buff Albacore on Sunday, Microsoft has begun placing promotional links to its own products within the Windows 11 sign-out menu. When some users click the user icon within the Windows 11 start menu to lock or sign out of their computers, they now see items at the top of the flyout list like “Complete your profile” and “Back up your files.” These are not-so-sneaky advertisements for Microsoft’s account services and OneDrive file hosting service, respectively.
Based on recent replication efforts, it seems only some Windows 11 users are seeing the ads. Bleeping Computer, for instance, was unable to view them on any of several Windows 11 systems; nor was I on the one Windows 11 machine in my household. The obvious conclusion here is that Microsoft is likely testing the promotional links before committing to a full rollout.
Though this might lead one to hope they’ll never see the ads on their machine, Microsoft’s history with baked-in ads says otherwise. Earlier this year the company began placing ads in the Windows 11 File Explorer app. While it later backpedaled and said it hadn’t meant to do so publicly, we wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see them come back for good—after all, Microsoft had done the same thing with Windows 10 File Explorer just a few years prior. Microsoft even made it so that ads for Edge, its web browser, would appear in the Windows 10 start menu when users searched for rival browsers.
It doesn’t exactly feel great to be continuously upsold after sinking money into something. (It also, at the risk of sounding mean, looks a bit pitiful on Microsoft’s part.) It might be possible to disable certain ads, but as some Twitter users said in response to Albacore’s initial tweet, PC users shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to escape ads for things they likely already know about, and maybe even use.
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