Microsoft testing error badge in Windows 11 to promote Microsoft accounts
Microsoft is testing a change in one of the latest Windows 11 Developer builds; it is displaying an error badge on the user's account profile image if a local account is being used.
First discovered by Albacore, it appeared in Developer build 23419, which Microsoft released in late March 2022. Microsoft did not reveal that change in the changelog on the official website.
The screenshot shows an error badge on the profile icon in the Start Menu. A click on the icon displays the following message, or order: "Sign in to your Microsoft account. You'll be able to back up your device and keep it more secure".
Microsoft has been testing promotional messages in the very same spot. All previous promotions, some would call them advertisements, were displayed to users signed in with a Microsoft account on the device.
Windows 11 users have two options to sign-in to the device: use a Microsoft account or a local account. Microsoft has been pushing hard to get customers to use Microsoft Accounts and not local accounts. It started to hide the local option for many users during initial setup, but there are workarounds to create local accounts during Windows 11 setup.
The profile icon, displayed when the Start Menu opens, lists options to switch to another account, sign-out of the current account, lock the screen, or open the account settings.
Previous Start Menu promotions, those that targeted Microsoft Account users, displayed an exclamation mark badge on the profile icon. All advertised Microsoft's OneDrive service. OneDrive is free to use, but Microsoft is earning money through commercial plans that increase storage and add other tools and features for subscribers.
The local account badge makes it appear as if there is a major issue with the account or the operating system. Users who click on the profile icon to find out more about that issue, get an advertisement for Microsoft accounts and also OneDrive, which is probably not what they expect.
To Microsoft's credit, it is testing these changes in developer builds of the operating system. Whether these will make it into stable builds is up for debate. Microsoft is apparently working on a setting to block these new promotions from being displayed.
Instead of using an already existing setting, Microsoft appears to have cooked up a new preference, but it is not yet integrated into the Developer builds of Windows 11.
The new profile icon badges for local and Microsoft account users advertise OneDrive. Microsoft has not revealed its intention, but getting more users to use a Microsoft account and OneDrive, for backups, may certainly get more customers to pay for extra storage.
Deceptive promotions like these should not find their way into an operating system, but only time will tell if this one will find its way into stable builds of Windows 11.Advertisement