Windows 11 is swiftly maturing into a solid operating system, and adoption is steadily climbing, despite a rocky start and users’ love of Windows 10. Now, preview builds of Microsoft’s flagship OS have revealed that the tech giant plans to cut back one of Windows 11’s most annoying features: the endless stream of push notifications.
These pop-ups aren’t entirely problematic, but if you’ve already upgraded to Windows 11 you’ve probably been mildly annoyed by these notifications. Almost every preloaded Windows app can send you desktop notifications – whether it’s Edge trying to spoon-feed you Bing news or the Weather app warning you of potential rain.
Sure, you can already use the Focus Assist feature to reduce unwanted annoyances when using Windows 11, but that can also cut out notifications you do want to receive. With the new ‘smart opt-out’ feature touted in the most recent preview build available to Windows Insiders, Windows 11 will now ask you if you want to disable notifications from an app when it pings you – but only if you haven’t used the app for a while.
It’s about time, frankly: I like Windows 11, but the neverending slew of pop-ups from apps I literally never use is just an unnecessary irritation. I only have an Outlook account for activating copies of Windows and signing up for stuff, and getting spam email popups on my desktop whenever I set up a new laptop I’m reviewing is a pain.
I’m also relieved to see that Microsoft isn’t using this as an opportunity to cram more AI into Windows. Bing AI wasn’t something I needed or wanted, and I was even less pleased to see Microsoft putting AI on my taskbar. When I saw the new ‘smart opt-out’ I was immediately worried that my notifications would suddenly be placed into the digital palms of a deep-learning program.
Not so, thankfully. Sometimes the simplest solution is best: if you don’t engage with an app for a month or longer (beyond banishing its notifications), the new build of Windows 11 will recommend you disable notifications for that app. That’s all there is to it; apps you use regularly won’t be affected.
The new ‘smart’ feature also includes the inverse effect: if you have Do Not Disturb turned on, first- and third-party apps will be able to ask you if you’d like to allow ‘important’ notifications only, letting you filter out the regular stuff while not blinding yourself to anything urgent.
Of course, what classes as an ‘urgent’ pop-up is something some app-makers will no doubt take liberties with, but it’s a step in the right direction. I can’t wait until this feature arrives in our live builds of Windows 11– just as long as it remembers my opt-out choices when I log in on a new machine!