Microsoft’s latest Windows 11 update, released on Tuesday, includes a new feature that has left some users feeling annoyed. A small number of users are now seeing “notifications” promoting other Microsoft products when clicking on the Windows Start Menu. These notifications are essentially promotions that encourage users to use other Microsoft products like OneDrive, the company’s cloud backup service.
The notifications appear as a kind of promotion when users click on the Windows button on the desktop, asking them to, for instance, “Back up your files.” Clicking the “Start backup” button will open OneDrive, enticing users to sign up for the service. Microsoft has shared a small screenshot of what the promotions look like, with the text appearing directly above a user’s sign-out and account settings options.
However, many Windows users have criticized the move, accusing Microsoft of trying to push more native ads into its operating system. According to the Neowin tech blog, beta users were able to disable the ads by navigating to Settings, Personalization, Start, and then clicking off “show account-related notifications occasionally in Start.” According to Microsoft’s Windows 11 preview release notes, the notifications are only being deployed to a small audience but will reach “more broadly in the coming months.”
The company is looking for feedback from the few who are seeing these pop-ups in their taskbar. These not-ads have been a long time coming. The Windows beta user Albacore originally tweeted about these OneDrive promotions in the Start menu back in November last year. Those screenshots also showed Microsoft had considered advertising to users to sign up for a Microsoft account here as well.
While the notifications may seem like a small feature, they add to the ongoing debate around the amount of advertising in software products. Users expect that they will not be subject to promotional material when they purchase or use software products. Therefore, the decision by Microsoft to introduce these notifications is a departure from this expectation and could potentially harm the user experience.