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Microsoft is serving ads in the Windows 11 sign-out menu

Microsoft has snuck advertising into Windows 11 before.

windows 11 on laptop
Image: KnowTechie

Windows Insiders have noticed that Windows 11 is displaying advertising on the Start Menu. Again.

As reported by BleepingComputer, software historian Albacore noticed promotional messages for Microsoft products in a strange place. That place was the Start Menu, in the Accounts flyout menu.

His posts show ads for OneDrive nudging to “Back up your files.” Testing the feature using a local account produced “Sign up for Microsoft Account” and “Complete your profile,” both acting as prompts not to use a local account.

KnowTechie tried replicating this on all of our Windows 11 machines, to no avail. Only Windows Insider Dev builds have the feature. That build is basically like a beta version before beta testers actually receive it.

That means this could be some early tests, and Microsoft doesn’t intend for the new ad spots to go to consumer machines.

Microsoft loves some in-app advertising

Microsoft has snuck advertising into Windows 11 before. In March of 2022, File Explorer showed promotional messages for other Microsoft software.

At that time, Microsoft reversed the change and said that it was “an experimental banner that was not supposed to be published externally.”

Is that the case again? Once is a mistake, and twice is the beginning of a pattern…

And it’s not only two times. Microsoft used File Explorer to show ads in 2016, and Wordpad was used to display ads for Office.

The company also broke the Start Menu and Taskbar with ads for Teams, shortly before Windows 11 was released.

It may be how the world is going, as even Netflix has an ad-supported tier now.

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