Microsoft continues push to turn Windows into an advertising space

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 10, 2024
Updated • Apr 10, 2024
Windows 11 News

A fundamental shift happened in the development of the Windows operating system in recent years. Some say it started during the development of Windows 11, Microsoft's newest operating system. Others suggest that it started with Windows 10 already, which Microsoft released in 2015.

This shift, which was likely encouraged by the higher ups at Microsoft, changed how Microsoft perceives Windows. In particular, about increasingly using the operating system as a driver for ads and revenue.  What's wrong with that you might say. Microsoft has every right to change the operating system in any way it pleases.

I'd like to point out that these intrusions are more often than not a nuisance. Some cannot be hidden or removed permanently, others may pop up in the worst possible moment. In other words, this trend may impact your productivity.

It would go too far to list all of Microsoft's recent transgressions, but to name a few: user session menu ads, Get Help app with ads, Copilot showing third-party ads, lock screen ads, or the use of diagnostic data for ads. There are plenty of examples not mentioned here.

More ads and promotions are on their way

Windows 11 recommended section with promotions
image source: PhantomOfEarth

Microsoft is constantly testing changes and some of them may introduce new ads or promotions. Eagle-eyed Windows connoisseur PhantomOfEarth discovered that Microsoft is working on improving the usefulness of the Recommended section of the Start Menu. How? By adding promotions for apps of course!

I'm not a huge fan of the recommended section and always wondered why Microsoft has not added an option to hide it entirely. This may be the answer: to get eyes on ads. Users who turn the section off cannot see ads or promotions in the Start Menu, and that would be a shame.

Microsoft adjusted the preference that powers this functionality to highlight that it may also show app promotions. You find it under Personalization > Start > Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more.

You may remember that this is not Microsoft's first attempt at introducing ads to the recommended section. Some time ago, Microsoft launched website recommendations in development builds, but it removed these before launch in stable versions thankfully.

This, however, is not the only place where you may soon see ads on Windows 11. Albacore's latest deep dive found information about a new taskbar button Microsoft is working on. This button is called "Recommended". While it is currently unclear what kind of recommendations it might show, it would not come as a total surprise if these recommendations might also include ads for apps or services.

Closing Words

Granted, these features have been found in development builds of Windows 11 and not stable versions. There is a chance that the features get removed during development. There is, however, a good chance that you will see promotions in one form or another in the Start Menu or taskbar very soon.

What is your take on this? Do you mind the increase in ads in Windows?

Microsoft continues push to turn Windows into an advertising space
Article Name
Microsoft continues push to turn Windows into an advertising space
It looks as if more advertisement and promotions are coming to Windows 11's Start Menu and also the taskbar very soon. Here is what we know.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Tim said on April 14, 2024 at 9:04 am

    While I dislike Windows a lot for its anticonsumer moves, I must admit I don’t get any ads on my Win11 machine. I switched as many ugly options in the settings app as it seemed reasonable, but I didn’t tweak the system in any way. But it doesn’t change my general opinion about the OS. Windows exists primarily for its creators, not the users.

  2. Lizard said on April 12, 2024 at 1:04 pm

    I am using Fedora KDE Plasma 6 so I don’t really miss windows 11 at all.

  3. samurai cat said on April 12, 2024 at 8:07 am

    uBlock Origin will then need to evolve from being a Browser Extension to an App that loads in System Tray and blocks all ads in Windows. Also this way, uBlock Origin as a Full App can run outside the control of Google/Chrome’s shenanigans with YouTube ads.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on April 12, 2024 at 2:39 pm

      It’s called AdGuard.

  4. homer simpson said on April 12, 2024 at 6:23 am

    @John G.

    “It’s ugly as hell sometimes, there is no much design imho, however it works like a charm.”

    Even better than gnome-look’s site is:

    Despite the name, it contains enough free designs for Linux Desktop Environments and Window Managers than you’ll ever have time to scroll through. And a lot of them are very nicely done.

  5. Peter Parker Kent said on April 11, 2024 at 5:19 pm

    Martin, thank you honestly for posting this article.

    For my part, I’ve grown numb to such things in different versions of Windows over the years, routinely stripping out a lot of the bloatware/unncessary (to me) features upon a fresh install or upgrade, etc. and trying to “rebuild” it as I see fit. Only recently did I find out that it is possible to pretty much create your own customized Windows ISO.

    Thanks to all those companies and hobbyists out there who create helpful tools for everyone – e.g. O&O Software who released ShutUp10/11 [I’m not paid, just a fan] – that strip out a lot of this stuff and help users keep an eye on things to (usually) prevent the pests from returning, so to speak.

  6. TelV said on April 11, 2024 at 2:22 pm

    Reading this article I’m reminded of one by The Verge when reviewing a mobile phone recently. It concerns the Motorola Moto G Power which according to the writer is literally littered with ads some of which have even been baked into the Android OS. Here’s the article (if Martin will allow it)

    The point is though will Microsoft go the same route? Embedding apps into Windows with no means of removing them is the ultimate way to irritate users and destroy Microsoft’s reputation in the process.

    That said I don’t think Microsoft cares anymore. They have a virtual monopoly with only Apple to contend with. Switching to that would be like jumping from the frying pan into the fire since Apple is embarking on a similar venture from what I’ve read. Sigh….

    1. EFromme said on April 11, 2024 at 5:40 pm

      What – MS has a reputation? And what for one might that be?
      First forced ads, then you pay to remove.
      MS has the world by the balls
      Except Win 8< users.

  7. GatesFoundation said on April 11, 2024 at 2:46 am

    Is there a Microsoft employee that is actively attempting to ruin Windows? It’s possible that some Apple fanatic has gotten inside Microsoft and is destroying Windows on purpose.

    1. TelV said on April 12, 2024 at 10:54 am


      Yes, his name is Satya Nadella.

    2. Allwynd said on April 11, 2024 at 10:22 am

      Microsoft are still number 1 in PC OS so they can do whatever they want and get away with it.

      1. Seeprime said on April 11, 2024 at 6:28 pm

        Windows share has dropped from over 90 percent ten years ago to 72 percent today. If they’re not paying attention, it’ll drop further. I have two workstations. One runs W11Pro, the other one, a ten year old machine is now running Linux Mint 21.3. The Mint machine holds its own, even with a SATA SSD and 1/3 the CPU power. It’s surprising how well it works.

  8. John said on April 10, 2024 at 10:35 pm

    Windows today is just a self serving platform for Microsoft. Luckily I don’t have to use Windows much at all anymore.

  9. VioletMoon said on April 10, 2024 at 9:09 pm

    Funny, I’ve yet to see any of these things Martin writes about–these petty annoyances that others must actually be looking for because they have so much time in life to use announcing new silly things that are annoyances, but only if one even sees them.

    I’m too busy, actually, productively using my computer to finish work that needs to be done on a deadline. And since I am always one day closer to death, I dare not spend hours of a precious day deliberately searching for something that is annoying to me so I can complain on Twitter and become famously “frozen.”

    My gosh, GAL.

  10. upp said on April 10, 2024 at 8:55 pm

    Switch to Linux, the best way to tell Microsoft to fuck off is jumping ship, more people use Linux = better driver, software support and that will be the final blow.

    Remember Android is Linux, and it won so Linux can also.

  11. Dr Terry said on April 10, 2024 at 8:09 pm

    I spent my valuable time giving you a needed comment that has not been posted…you need to find it read it and post it otherwise you are being derelict in your duty to help protect users for not posting a needed comment for all users to read everywhere…do the right thing…and if you site lost it get your comments section fixed…the site seemed to have missed or deleted comment… Without saying if it was sent it not- unacceptable

  12. Dr terry said on April 10, 2024 at 7:32 pm

    This is an outrage all news sites, tech sites, magazines, tv need stations, and bloggers everywhere must protest this “bullshik”, ghacks just reporting story contributes to the problem, you must hit them hard embaress then Shame then for this exploitation and abuse of power over user privacy and security…an operating system must be secure w/ no distractions

  13. Tom Hawack said on April 10, 2024 at 7:14 pm

    “What is your take on this? Do you mind the increase in ads in Windows?”

    My take on Microsoft continuing push to turn Windows into an advertising space doesn’t concern my PC given it (still) runs under Windows 7. Otherwise I’d likely encounter a nervous breakdown should stable versions confirm this ad hysteria.

    Advertisement bothers, annoys me as a whole,
    – In particular when it is enforced with no way, or in a way hard for newbies, to be blocked without altering the software.
    – In particular when the very OS is concerned.
    – I’ve never been hysterical myself about advertising a product, a service, a company, because promoting is itself a natural component of business and business (understood as an exchange) a natural component of mankind. The problem is advertisement inflation, advertisement enhanced by means of tracking and malvertisement (which hasn’t been eradicated). What all this is relevant of is a total lack of respect and consideration for the user and/or the consumer. Less and better is NOT the ad’s business credo, overfeeding is.

    No need to be a genius to understand that Microsoft is pushing ads because of its fame.
    Fame but not monopoly : if the scheme continues to be advertisement supported by an OS (and even an OS supported by ads) I’ll be bond to join the wise club, that of those who have switched to Linux. I know myself : I won’t make it with Windows post-8.1, not as ads are going on.

    1. clas said on April 12, 2024 at 4:34 pm

      hi tom, we both have been on here for years, you much more prominent than i. but your comments are appreciated. i am also a die hard win7pro fan. i have zero problems, zero intrusions, zero ads or unwanted crapola. i continue to chuckle at comments. my pc is pretty much locked down and i am not bothered by unwanted and unneeded ads and other win10 and 11 annoyances.

  14. John C. said on April 10, 2024 at 5:24 pm

    To paraphrase Shakespeare: “First thing we do, we lock up all the advertisers, paint their feet green and bombard them with loud advertising for a period of one week.” This might get the point across to them that advertising to what you think is a captive audience might not be as free from payback as you think.

    If advertisers could legally kick in the front door of your house, run inside to stand in front of you and scream advertising at you, do you really think they wouldn’t do it?

    Being forced to watch advertising for products and services in which I have no interest lowers my quality of life. It makes me want to get even with advertisers, not buy anything.

  15. ECJ said on April 10, 2024 at 4:55 pm

    “…I’m not a huge fan of the recommended section and always wondered why Microsoft has not added an option to hide it entirely. This may be the answer: to get eyes on ads.”

    Indeed. That’s exactly why those unscrupulous scumbags wouldn’t allow users to disable the “Recommended” section in the Start Menu – despite it being a idiotic waste of space for people who don’t use it.

  16. Tachy said on April 10, 2024 at 3:27 pm

    Hell yes I mind!

    #1 It should be illegal to display ads people did not specififcally go looking for.

    #2 Dishonest or misleading information from a bisuness, government employeee, or elected official, should also be a crime.

    1. boris said on April 10, 2024 at 11:08 pm

      You just described every TV or Website commercial.

    2. Anonymous said on April 10, 2024 at 10:49 pm

      As much as I hate advertising:
      Advertising is information. Without it, we’d find out nothing (advertising includes information on News that, such as {whoever} released a new record or a new game, etc). Awareness a product exists is not a bad thing. You may not have heard of a bread slicer, so these are bread slicers and this is what they do is OK. Telling us Brand-A sliced bread is better is wrong. Telling us both positive feature and negative features would be good. As you know with all things, we only ever get told by advertising the things something will do and not the things it won’t that other models do.

      Where advertisers choose to advertise needs control. For example, displaying advertising at the side of roads a paths where they distract from safety signs is potentially dangerous.

      1. John C. said on April 11, 2024 at 2:14 pm

        That’s the classic argument given by advertisers, and it doesn’t hold water. Using a shotgun tactic to blast info about their products involves too much collateral damage and lowers the quality of life for everybody. Advertising does have its place, but it should be something that only occurs when somebody is looking for something. I *DETEST* having an ad shoved in my face when I’m trying to get something done. Especially when it’s advertising a product or service in which I have ABSOLUTELY NO INTEREST!

        Cable TV is on a massive decline because of the tremendous amount of advertising that is now being shoved down the viewer’s throat. Adblockers abound in browsers because most people DETEST ADVERTISING.

        You must be in advertising, otherwise you wouldn’t think that your argument in favor of it is legitimate.

      2. 45 RPM said on April 11, 2024 at 8:21 am

        Thank you for explaining advertising, I didn’t know!

        Your posts are consistent. Consistently disconnected from the issue you feel a need to comment on. There are ads in all kinds of places. But I don’t pay for those places like, say, on the wall of a building or the side of a bus (and even then there are places where those are banned).

        An operating system that’s paid for (and expensive) is not a place for ads. Period.

  17. Valrobex said on April 10, 2024 at 3:22 pm

    Hi Martin,

    It’s been a long time since I’ve commented on Ghacks. Hope things are going well for you.

    This post touches on one of the reasons I no longer use the newer versions of Windows. The primary reason is to maintain my personal privacy but avoiding “recommendations” (aka, advertisements) is certainly another reason.

    I switched to Linux Mint years ago and haven’t looked back. I do use Win 7 in a virtual box for my legacy software and recommend to others that they give this a try. It works quite well.

    I have to admit I don’t play computer games which may require a Windows operating system and that this may be am issue for some folks. But from what I have read this is changing and game playing on Linux may soon be just as good. Time will tell.

    1. Jason said on April 10, 2024 at 7:14 pm

      With all that Microsoft has done to turn away the average user, I’m surprised that Linux doesn’t have a bigger share of the market than a lousy 4%.

      Until new computers come with a Linux OS option, I guess average users will just go with whatever Microsoft does.

      Personally I find Linux Mint and Ubuntu Desktop to be very user-friendly. If OEM’s would just start pushing those OSes more, Microsoft may be forced to stop with this enshittification.

  18. pHROZEN gHOST said on April 10, 2024 at 2:31 pm

    Linux is looking better every day.

    1. Allwynd said on April 11, 2024 at 5:29 am

      I switched to Linux Mint in March, some things don’t work, or at least I still don’t know how to make them work, bit I got a few graphic intensive games to work on above 100 FPS so I’m happy. I plan to stick with Linux for years and learn to fix my problems on my own.

    2. Anonymous said on April 10, 2024 at 10:51 pm

      Not to those of us who need Windows to run specific software.

    3. John G. said on April 10, 2024 at 8:10 pm

      I have W10, W11 and Ubuntu 22.04 (24.04 soon) and most of my 75% of the global time I am working with Ubuntu. Why? Because it is really productive for my work, it works always, no problem with WiFi, nor with HDMI, printers, USB devices or any kind of Bluetooth devices neither. I really like the way of just doing things without having to touch here and there to config and tune up the OS. I have plain Ubuntu with zero configuration needed since the very beginning. Also I have a W10 completely tuned to my tastes, and a W11 with no config at all (I declined some time ago to lose time with it). It’s really amazing how Linux is able to work daily with zero problems. It’s ugly as hell sometimes, there is no much design imho, however it works like a charm.

      1. Paul said on April 11, 2024 at 7:51 am
      2. John G. said on April 11, 2024 at 4:49 pm

        @Paul, LOL, thank you very much! :D

    4. ddk said on April 10, 2024 at 5:47 pm

      Mac OS too.
      Without the constant bugginess of Linux desktop distros.
      Actually I’ve switched almost entirely to iPad OS which is darn stable and works great for me.

      1. Anonymous said on April 11, 2024 at 11:37 pm

        iPad OS? Looks like you don’t use your computer for much anyways.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.