Microsoft drew the ire of users earlier this year with its increasingly desperate attempts to get users to upgrade to Windows 10. Regardless of whether or not the new OS is an improvement, people don’t like their computers to get so pushy. It seems that Microsoft has not learned its lesson, and is now pushing what are essentially ads for its browser to some Windows users. That’s not gonna fly with people.
Microsoft’s Edge browser is the replacement for Internet Explorer, but it was a bit of a mess when Windows 10 launched. The change in browsers hasn’t stopped users from flocking to alternatives like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Apparently Microsoft thinks it can stop that with some needling in the form of taskbar popups. PC World editor Brad Chacos spotted one of these and grabbed a screenshot before dismissing the ad.
The ad is reminding users they can sign up for Microsoft Rewards and earn points while they use Edge. The ad—and let’s be honest, that’s what it is—won’t appear if you’re already a regular user of Edge or Microsoft Rewards. Likewise, there’s nowhere for the popup to appear if you don’t have the Edge icon in your taskbar.
What’s particularly annoying about this ad is that Microsoft doesn’t seem to consider it an ad. It’s not governed by the “suggestions” in personalization, which has its own history of abuse. The Edge ad is part of Microsoft’s tips and tricks. To turn that off, you need to go to Settings > System > Notifications & Actions and turn off the “tips, tricks, and suggestions” toggle. That’s pretty misleading, I think.
That’s not the only aspect of Microsoft’s new Edge ad blitz. People have reported seeing “tips” in the action center that tell them Chrome is bad for their battery life, and Edge would be much better. This is just an ad under the guise of a helpful suggestion. Cluttering up notifications is possibly even worse. On Android, Google actually made a rule that developers can’t put ads in the notification area.
No one is saying Microsoft shouldn’t be able to promote its products—you might even feel compelled to give Microsoft a little more leeway this time, as Windows 10 was a free upgrade. However, there needs to be a happy middle between promotion and nagging. A good start would be to truly respect the user’s ad settings and not pretend these popups are anything else.
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