Microsoft is in the news again – for the wrong reasons, again. In its latest act of invasive pushiness of its own products onto our Windows 10 desktops, Microsoft has made an annoying little notification icon that pops up above the Chrome icon in your taskbar, promoting a Chrome extension that will compare prices for you using Microsoft’s “Personal Shopping Assistant.”
Naturally, this has left people frustrated, and it has me thinking about all the other sneaky little ways Microsoft bombs us with advertising and how to stop the onslaught.
Disable Lock Screen Ads
Much like the recently snuck-in “Personal Shopping Assistant” ad, Microsoft added in lock screen ads in an update in February 2016. To be fair to them, it was hardly being “sneaky,” as there’s no way you’re not going to notice a giant ad for MineCraft or Tomb Raider taking up your entire lock screen, but Microsoft had the audacity not to even label these things as ads.
Instead, they’re called “fun facts, tips and more.” To get rid of them, click “Start -> Settings -> Lock screen,” and change your background from “Slideshow” to “Spotlight” or “Picture.” Or, if you like your slideshows, keep that as your background, but switch the “Get fun facts, tips and more from Windows and Cortana on your lock screen” slider off.
Get Rid of the “Get Office” Notifications
There’s not much wrong with a “Get Office” app existing within Windows so long as it doesn’t get in your way. But like so many things on Windows 10, it does get in your way, sliding in from the sides of the screen when you least want it to. To get rid of it, click Start, type “get office,” then right-click “Get Office” and click uninstall.
Block Start Menu Ads
In a bid to promote its Windows App Store, Microsoft by default throws suggestions for apps you can download into live tiles on your Start menu. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the Start menu – an aspect of Windows 10 that users were so excited to see make a return after its absence from Windows 8 – becomes a self-promoting ad board for Microsoft, but at least it’s easy to get rid of.
To get rid of app suggestions in your Start menu, click Start (say your final goodbye to those pesky app suggestions in the live tiles), then click “Settings -> Start” and de-select the option for “Occasionally show suggestions in Start.”
Remove Your Advertising ID Footprint
We’re moving into privacy territory here, but then there’s a lot of crossover between that and advertising, so I’m taking the liberty. Microsoft tracks your movement across its Windows apps and any web browser on your PC. To turn off your advertising ID so Microsoft can’t track you across Windows apps, go to “Settings -> Privacy -> General,” then turn off the slider for “Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps.”
To get rid of browser-tracking for targeted ads, go to this page on the Microsoft website, scroll down, and turn off the slider for “Personalised ads in this browser.”
Looking at all the above information, it paints a bit of a bleak picture about the direction Windows seems to be heading. Despite complaints from users, Microsoft has shown no signs of retracting some of its more invasive ad-based features and is indeed adding them in as we’ve seen with the Personal Shopping Assistant.
What’s worrying about this latest update is that there’s no way to disable it, while most of the previous features can be disabled. At least, given the negative reaction to the Shopping Assistant, we know that people won’t stand for this kind of thing, and we’ll put up a fight each time Microsoft tries any funny business.