Windows 11 may soon pester you to sign up for Microsoft 365

AI-generated image about ads on Windows 11
(Image credit: Bing Image Creator | Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is testing several forms of advertisement within the Settings app on Windows 11.
  • Officially known as "badging," Microsoft has added prompts to use its services and create a Microsoft account throughout Windows 11.
  • While these types of prompts draw criticism from many, a significant portion of people do not view them as ads, based on our polling.

Microsoft is working on a new feature for Windows 11 that will likely draw criticism. The latest Insider builds of the operating system show several prompts to sign up for Microsoft services. The Windows 11 Settings app includes a shortcut to try a free trial for Microsoft 365.

These types of prompts are officially known as "badging" by Microsoft, though our colleagues at TechRadar prefer to call them "badgering." There's a bit of a debate between tech enthusiasts on if these badges are ads or merely helpful prompts for Microsoft services.

Twitter user Albacore shared screenshots of the pages in the Windows 11 Settings app. They specified that the pages have been in Insider builds for several weeks but that they've been hidden. The shared screenshots are from Windows 11 Build 23451, which rolled out late last week.

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When the pages appear, the Windows 11 Settings app will offer anyone who doesn't have a Microsoft 365 account to try the service for free. There's also a section that shows data about a person's OneDrive storage, though the screenshot doesn't show a prompt for signing up for that service.

In the accounts section of the Settings app, there is a banner about signing up for a Microsoft account:

"Access your favorite Microsoft products and services with just one account. Your Microsoft account connects you to the files, photos, people, and content you care about most."

As the pages are in testing, they may not look like this when they make their way to general users. In fact, they may not roll out at all. We'll have to see how Microsoft responds to feedback about the hidden badges.

Windows Central take

Windows 11 meme about ads

(Image credit: Future (made with imgflip))

While I personally find these types of prompts to be intrusive and irritating, I must admit that there are a fair number of people who don't seem to mind them. When I ran a poll about a notification in the Start menu to use OneDrive, only, 52.47% of polled participants said they viewed the prompt as an advertisement. Given the small sample size, that's effectively a 50/50 split.

Microsoft seems to view notifications like these as helpful prompts that provide easy access to useful features. A cynic may point out that Microsoft makes money when people sign up for Microsoft 365 or other services. Another view is that Microsoft believes its products genuinely create a better experience, and that people benefit from using them.

I'd personally prefer a way to hide these types of notifications, but there's a good chance that general users won't be as up in arms about them as many Windows enthusiasts on social media.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at