Windows 11 caught upselling other Microsoft services — again

Windows 11 laptops
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 11 appears to be not just Microsoft's latest operating system but a tempting promotional tool, as eagle-eyed Windows Insiders have noticed ads for Microsoft services cropping up in the Start menu on some pre-release builds.

These promos appear to be trying to upsell Windows 11 users on using other Microsoft services, including OneDrive. While these ads appear to be only pushing people deeper into Microsoft's ecosystem (so far) by prompting users to do things like finish their profile or back up their files to OneDrive (which offers up to 5GB storage for free but charges for more), they seem like an unwanted addition to an operating system already struggling with low adoption rates.

These glimpses of what could be changing in Windows 11 in the near future come to us courtesy of Twitter user Albacore, who published screenshots this week of ads appearing in the flyout menu that pops up when you click your profile icon in the Start menu to sign out. With promos like "Back up your files," "Sign up for Microsoft Account" and "Complete your profile" these ads are brief and to the point, but it's hard to imagine why anyone would want to look at them.

Since these ads are cropping up in pre-release versions of Windows 11 sent out via the Windows Insider Dev Channel, there's no guarantee they'll ever appear on Windows 11 proper. Still, it's disheartening to see Microsoft again trying to upsell Windows users on buying into other services and enmeshing themselves deeper in its ecosystem. 

This is hardly the first time the company has tried this, either. Back in March 2022, Microsoft was caught slipping banner ads for other Microsoft services into File Explorer on pre-release versions of Windows 11. Shortly thereafter a Microsoft representative claimed the ad "was an experimental banner that was not intended to be published externally and was turned off," but it appears the experiment continues apace.

We've reached out to Microsoft for further details on when or if these promos will start rolling out to release versions of Windows 11, and we'll update this story if we hear back. 

Analysis: Windows 11 has a big "Why? problem

As a Windows 11 user myself, I've had a hard enough time trying to come up with good reasons why friends and family should upgrade from Windows 10. 

The prospect of further cluttering up the underwhelming interface of Windows 11 with annoying upsells for other Microsoft services certainly won't help.

Next: Windows 11 is finally worth upgrading to now — here's why.

Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.