How to Block Ads that Windows 10 Pushes on You

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.

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.

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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.

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.”

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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.”

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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.

10 comments

  1. I don’t recieve these, except the fun facts lockscreen, but for me it truly is just facts about the place in the wallpaper.

    I don’t know what did it but here’s my setup
    Maybe using win 10 pro
    Turning on the Defer upgrades
    Or uninstalling as much of the preinstalled bloat as possible.
    Maybe not signing into live in Windows.
    Or disabling the advertising id.

    • Welcome to the world of Linux! I proselytize every chance I get, and encourage those who switch from Windows to let Microsoft know about it and to explain why. Only when M$ feels it in their wallet will they stop foisting unwanted crap on their customers.

      • I would love to switch to Linux, as have been getting more and more cheesed off with M$.
        Trouble is I have some paid for 3rd party software and they don’t really play well with Wine.

      • I convert all the people that ask me for help on their PC. My reply is now “I don’t do Windows.. … but I’ll pick out a nice distro for you and show you how to use it.” After that I might get a Christmas card, but no more phone calls on fixing their PC!

    • I moved from Microsoft W10 two years ago as W10 was forced on me by MS and am now using Linux Mint Cinnamon 18.2 and so glad I did and added Adblock Plus I am so glad now that I am away from MS, the other thing is the running costs of running Linux (unless you make a contribution to Linux) is NOTHING and that includes any aps you may require but there 3,000 already on the distro should you need them. Yes there is a learning curve when you transfer but no difference from upgrading from W7 or W8 to W10 and no real hassle.

  2. I don’t get any of those things. You must have set something up wrong. I have several computers running different versions of Windows 10 and don’t have any of those issues.

  3. There is a far simpler method of disposing of these adverts convert to a Linux distribution, there so many out there I am sure you could find one that suits you. I did a year ago I am using Linux Mint Cinnamon 18.1 64 bit and have never been happier.

  4. Section on blocking Startup ads must be obsolete. Could not find a screen that looked like that. When I went to startup, could not find the option to show or block suggestions at start anywhere.

  5. I have to reiterate the same sentiment as others on this list. If you REALLY want to avoid the “sleaze-tricks” from Windows, your best bet is to install Linux. And while maybe in 1994 it might have required you to have a Computer Science degree to do…..in this era installing Linux is as easy as installing any other application. The four best arguments for installing Linux are:
    1 – Its Free To use and install – On as many PC’s/laptops as you want.
    2 – It comes with most of what an average user needs – Unless you require that program from NASA that calculates wormhole locations in the middle of quasars….you should be fine. You get an office suite, a media player, an Internet browser,…..a text editor (think Notepad) a calculator. etc.
    3 – It updates often – Sometimes more than once a day you can get the latest security patches and updates to the applications and programs on your system.
    4 – It doesn’t invade your privacy – You can finally use an operating system that won’t send it’s “metrics” back to some server that the government will use to monitor your every digital move.

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