Microsoft’s leaked plans to add even more ads into the Windows 11 Start menu has not gone down well, and the less-than-positive reaction could hopefully make the company think twice about implementing the change.
As we reported on March 29, Microsoft has added ‘notifications for Microsoft accounts’ into a new option update for Windows 11. Despite its rather coy-sounding name, many people saw this as meaning more adverts for Microsoft’s services, such as OneDrive.
However, as Neowin reports, a hidden setting has been spotted in Windows 11 build 23419 that allows you to turn off those adverts. This build of Windows 11 is only currently available to people who are signed up to the Windows Insiders programme to help test early versions of Windows 11, but it could hint that Microsoft is considering adding the option to an upcoming version of Windows 11 for everyone.
Good news and bad
The discovery of this setting could be seen as good news. It means that Microsoft may have anticipated that its move to add more adverts to the Windows 11 Start menu wouldn’t be popular, and decided that adding the option to turn ads off could address some people’s concerns.
Somewhere in the bowls of Microsoft, then, there may be a voice, no matter how faint, that’s saying “maybe we shouldn’t keep trying to push our services so aggressively onto our users.” That gives me hope that not all is lost.
However, it’s not all good news. For a start, when I say this option to turn off adverts is hidden – I mean really hidden. Not only is it supposed to be buried deep in the menus (you have to go to Settings > Personalization > Start), but it won’t even appear unless you use a third-party app called ‘ViveTool’ to make it appear.
Messing around with this app, and using the powerful Windows PowerShell application to make the option appear, isn’t recommended (visit Neowin’s page above for instructions if you are keen), and forcing this hidden option to appear and disable adverts could have unanticipated consequences.
Even if Microsoft doesn’t hide it so completely, it’s pretty obvious that Microsoft wants to have the adverts turned on by default, and hopes that many users won’t know how to turn them off.
We’ll keep an eye on how this develops, but if Microsoft keeps filling Windows 11 with adverts for services its users don’t want, we could soon see an even more vocal pushback against its plans.