Ads in Windows 11 are becoming the new normal and look like they’re headed for your Settings home page

Microsoft looks like it’s forging ahead with its mission to put more ads in parts of the Windows 11 interface, with the latest move being an advert introduced to the Settings home page.

Windows Latest noticed the ad, which is for the Xbox Game Pass, is part of the latest preview release of the OS in the Dev channel (build 26120). For the uninitiated, the Game Pass is Microsoft’s subscription service that grants you access to a host of games for a monthly or yearly subscription fee.

Not every tester will see this advert, though, at least for now, as it’s only rolling out to those who have chosen the option to ‘Get the latest updates as soon as they're available’ (and that’s true of the other features delivered by this preview build). Also, the ad only appears for those signed into a Microsoft account.

Furthermore, Microsoft explains in a blog post introducing the build that the advert for the Xbox Game Pass will only appear to Windows 11 users who “actively play games” on their PC. The other changes provided by this fresh preview release are useful, too, including fixes for multiple known issues, some of which are related to performance hiccups with the Settings app. 

A close up of a keyboard and a woman gaming at a PC in neon lighting

(Image credit: Shutterstock/Standret)

Pushing too far is a definite risk for Microsoft

While I can see this fresh advertising push won’t play well with Windows 11 users, Windows Latest did try the new update and reports that it’s a significant improvement on the previous version of 24H2. So that’s good news at least, and the tech site further observes that there’s a solution for an installation failure bug in here (stop code error ‘0x8007371B’ apparently).

Windows 11 24H2 is yet to roll out officially for all users, but it’s expected to be the pre-installed operating system on the new Snapdragon X Elite PCs that are scheduled to be shipped in June 2024. A rollout to all users on existing Windows 11 devices will happen several months later, perhaps in September or October. 

I’m not the biggest fan of Microsoft’s strategy regarding promoting its own services – and indeed outright ads as is the case here – or the firm’s efforts to push people to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11. Unfortunately, come next year, Windows 10 users will be facing a choice of migrating to Windows 11, or losing out on security updates when support expires for the older OS (in October 2025). That is, if they can upgrade at all – Windows 11’s hardware requirements make this a difficult task for some older PCs.

I hope for my sake personally, and for all Windows 11 users, that Microsoft considers showing that it values us all by not subjecting us to more and more adverts creeping into different parts of the operating system.


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Microsoft is planning to make Copilot behave like a ‘normal’ app in Windows 11

Windows 11 is set for a major change to the Copilot interface, or at least this is something that’s being tried out in testing.

With Windows 11’s preview build 26080 (in both Canary and Dev channels), Microsoft is adding a choice to free Copilot from the shackles that bind the AI assistant to the right-hand side of the screen.

Normally, the Copilot panel appears on the right, and you can’t do anything about that (although Microsoft has been experimenting with the ability to resize it, and other bits and bobs besides).

With this change, you can now undock Copilot, so the AI is in a normal app window, which can be moved wherever you want on the desktop, and resized appropriately. In other words, you’re getting a lot more versatility regarding where you want Copilot to appear.

Also in this preview build, more users are getting Copilot’s new abilities to alter Windows 11 settings. That functionality was already introduced to Canary testers, but is now rolling out to more of those folks, and Windows Insiders in the Dev channel too.

The extra capabilities include getting the AI assistant to empty the Recycle Bin, or turn on Live Captions, or Voice Access (there are a fair few new options on the accessibility front, in fact).

Analysis: Under the hood tinkering, too

Not all testers in the mentioned channels will see the ability to fully free Copilot and let the AI roam the desktop for a while yet, mind. Microsoft says it’s just starting the rollout – and it’ll only be for those in the Canary channel initially. A broader rollout will follow, with Microsoft asking for feedback as it goes, and adjusting things based on what it hears from Windows 11 testers, no doubt.

There are also some ‘under-the-hood improvements’ coming for Copilot as well, as mentioned in the blog post, but mysteriously, Microsoft doesn’t say what. We can only guess that this might be performance related, as that seems the most obvious way that tinkering in the background could improve things with Copilot. (Perhaps it’s to do with ensuring the smooth movement of the undocked panel for the AI, even).

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