Welcome to what is probably to become another red hot Windows 10 talking point: Microsoft MSFT -1.54% has begined to display adverts within ‘free’ Windows 10. However don’t worry, there’s good news…
First picked up by ExtremeTech, Windows 10 has started to display a Tomb Raider promotion on its lock screen to a limited number of users. It could be seen on first boot or when users logged in and out of their computers.
Let alone the reaction by many has been to jump down Microsoft’s throat on this. It has been labelled as proof of how Microsoft will make users ‘pay’ for their free upgrade in the long term and symptomatic of a hellish future where Windows 10 users will face pop-up advertising the first time they open Word, third time they open Internet Explorer, etc etc.
First of all, Microsoft actually flagged up its intentions to use the lockscreen for “personalized suggestions” in an interview with the Verge way back in July 2015 and Tomb Raider isn’t even the first. Minions was actually advertised on Windows 10 lockscreens to a small number of users in January.
Secondly, there’s no suggestion right now Microsoft was paid for this promotion and it is simply a way to flag up Microsoft’s own Windows Store. Thirdly, the ads can be easily disabled which is done as follows:
- Open ‘Settings’, then ‘Personalization’
- Open ‘Lock Screen’
- Change ‘Background’ to a personal selection rather than ‘Windows spotlight’
- Switch ‘Get fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on your lock screen’ to Off
Certainly, while this isn’t a serious matter right now, it does throw up plenty of questions for debate going forward: Should ads really be enabled by default? Will users always be able to disable them? Should ads exist for users who pay for Windows 10 after the free upgrade period expires in July?
Also, it is worth noting Windows Store ads have already appeared elsewhere in Windows 10. Back in October ‘app suggestions’ appeared in the Start Menu. Nevertheless, again they could be quickly disabled and as Microsoft told The Inquirer:
“We will continue to offer Windows Ads in Apps on Windows 10. Beyond that, we do not currently have plans for advertising in Windows 10…Lock and Start content is programmed by Microsoft to help customers learn and discover new features and apps to enhance their Windows 10 experience; app publishers are not paying to be featured.”
All of which is fine.
Nonetheless, as is so often the case with Microsoft right now, the company could do a better job of spelling these things out to its users in advance with Windows pop-up and notifications rather than clearing up inevitable confusion and concern with blog posts and statements to the media afterwards.
Until then we will be left with a problem: a wildly ambitious and potentially game changing operating system that needlessly continues to leave its mainstream user base in the dark.