Windows 11’s Settings panel has been seen with a number of adverts in test builds of the OS, in what’s becoming a sadly familiar theme for preview builds of late.
As spotted by German tech site Deskmodder, this was flagged up by a respected source for Microsoft leaks, Albacore, on Twitter.
Albacore shared some screenshots of the new home page for the Settings app, as uncovered by digging into a Windows 11 preview from the Canary channel (the earliest test builds).
Updates were made to the Microsoft Account portion of the upcoming Settings Homepage, here's how it looks now + a preview of end of product support notices that can appear in the Account page pic.twitter.com/DwYEKqOb9nMay 5, 2023
The first screen grab (on the left in the above tweet) shows an ad for Microsoft 365 at the top of the panel, telling users what they get with the service and that they can try it for free (for a trial period). Under that, there’s a prompt to ‘finish setting up your account’, which refers to completing the setup of your Microsoft Account.
The other screenshots also have prompts relating to the Microsoft Account, this time urging users to sign into the account, one of which is shown on the Settings home page and another in the Accounts section. In the latter, users are told to ‘Sign in to get the most out of Windows’.
Analysis: Stop it with the badgering
We’ve been on the attack against ads in Windows 11 for a while now, as this seems to be a broad concept that’s gathering momentum with test builds of the OS in recent times, so consider this our feedback to Microsoft – don’t do it. Any of it.
Microsoft calls this ‘badging’ – a name coined for the same kind of ads that appear in the Start menu that we’ve seen recently in previews of Windows 11 – and the firm regards these as helpful prompts for the user, but it’s advertising by any other name. Particularly the efforts to try and get those using Windows 11 with a local account to sign up for a Microsoft Account, and tie their OS installation to that.
Now, we don’t know if any of these latest moves in testing (and still hidden in preview, in this case) will come through to the release build of Windows 11 – though badging in the Start menu has been rolled out in a limited fashion to the finished version of the OS. And there may be the ability to turn off these ads, too, as Deskmodder points out. In short, the final incarnation of the Settings panel when it’s implemented may be very different to what we see here.
As it stands, though – in these leaked screenshots – there’s a fair old chunk of the Home page dedicated to these ads. Way too much for our liking, and it’s the Home page that’s our main issue. (You could argue that a prompt is justified in the Accounts section of the panel, and we don’t have as much of a problem with the Microsoft Account status being flagged here – it’s much more in context).
As ever, we’ll have to wait and see how this plays out and hope that testers are making their feelings known if they aren’t keen on what seems to be a persistent angle for Microsoft at the moment with sneaking more ads into Windows 11.