Microsoft seems to be increasingly treating Windows 11 as a platform to advertise its services. In the latest Insider Preview build 23451, the tech giant is testing ways to promote its Microsoft 365 and OneDrive products within the operating system’s Settings menu. The move follows earlier attempts to display similar ads in the Start menu.
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/DwYEKqOb9n
— Albacore (@thebookisclosed) May 5, 2023
Windows beta user and well-known leaker, Albacore, recently shared several screenshots from the ultra-early Canary test build, revealing a new “Home” tab in the Settings menu. This tab includes a notice encouraging users to “Try Microsoft 365,” which links to a free trial of the office app suite. Another notice promotes OneDrive, and a third message prompts users to finish setting up their Microsoft accounts, highlighting the ability to use Microsoft 365 apps and cloud storage on desktop. The Accounts tab also pushes users to sign in to their Microsoft accounts.
These ads resemble the “badging” found in previous preview builds when users click on the Start menu. In the Start menu, the ads are more subtle, requesting users to “Sign in to your Microsoft account” or promoting the ability to “Use Microsoft 365 for free.” This “free” usage requires users to input their credit card information to access a free month of office apps.
Microsoft did not provide further comments beyond what was mentioned in its Build 23451 blog post. However, it is evident that the company is testing how far it can go with advertising its services within its operating system. Albacore noted that the test Settings page had been hidden “for a few weeks” and had received more of these cards, or ads, over the last few builds.
From the screenshots, it is unclear whether users will be able to disable these ads as they can for the Start menu. This version of the Home tab in the Settings menu appears to include nothing but the ads themselves.
Microsoft has been pushing its 365 apps, adding AI features to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The company retired the old Office brand last year, rebranding and consolidating to compete with Google’s suite of cloud-based workspace apps.
Windows 11 has struggled to win over Windows 10 users, as it took Microsoft a considerable amount of time to add new features like File Explorer tabs and a native video editor. Windows 10 users face a difficult choice as Microsoft will no longer provide new feature updates to the older OS and will cease security updates for Home, Pro, Enterprise, and Education versions of Windows 10 in October 2025. Product manager Jason Leznek encourages users to transition to Windows 11, but with the addition of these ads, that transition might become harder for some to accept.