Ramblings of a Tampa engineer
garbage bags on green grass field
Photo by John Cameron / Unsplash

A bit ago after an update on my Windows gaming machine - I saw something odd in my start menu - it was an ad.


There is nothing more infuriating to me when using something I paid for to have an advertisement shoved in my face. Thankfully, one quick search later and I knew how to disable it. They aren't advertisements to Microsoft they are called "Suggestions" so it confused me for a bit on the journey to remove it.

More recently Microsoft stepped this up again, this time warning on the Insider blog about changes being tested on the start menu.


This change fueled my anger even further and led me to basically thinking that Microsoft treats its users as garbage. If we look at that above image - you'll see this advertisement is actually now paired with the global caution symbol. For those not technically inclined they may believe this is a warning or something they need to do. When in fact most of these options are just shelling new products or encouraging the end user to sign into more accounts to give more data to Microsoft.

Just a few days ago I booted up the gaming computer and again something was different.

There was now a Bing/Edge search bar injected directly to my desktop over my wallpaper. This was the fastest "turn off" click in my life. It is almost comical at this point that I can't get a single update to my operating system without it shoving something down my throat that I don't want.

There are even plenty more of these annoying changes that I haven't mentioned. A few of them from recent memory include:

  • Weather in task bar.
  • Cortana in task bar.
  • Prompting to change my default web browser.
  • Prompting to use Cortana as my search engine for local files.
  • Candy Crush randomly installed.

What bothers me the most though is how every upgrade somehow Microsoft "forgets" some of my settings and asks me to confirm or change. Its like I can say "No" to Edge 40 times, but one upgrade and its randomly my default again.

There is a word for this, which is "Enshittification" - basically the decay of a platform in terms of quality. I've blogged about this a lot recently:

Or in more concrete terms:

  • Windows destroying the experience on every release.
  • Streaming solutions adding ads while we already pay for the content.
  • Spam everywhere - dating apps, Xbox messages, text messages, letters in mail.
  • Social networks removing chronological order to default to "recommendation based feeds"
  • Streaming solutions going up in price as their content becomes fractured between many services.

Is it my age? Is it the products? Is it the time? I'm just getting exhausted of products changing to the disadvantage of the end user, but advantage to the shareholders.

Maybe I'm part of the problem. I like when I get quarterly dividends on the market and I'm indirectly cheering and rooting on companies who turn around and degrade the experience for the users. We encourage and push companies to push growth quarter after quarter and once you've captured all the population you've got no choice but to degrade the experience to further squeeze profits.

Maybe this is just the way the world is now. Money changes everything. I don't know how to explain it, but if you look at Twitter now. People are not tweeting like they used to - folks are tweeting to draw attention and spawn interaction. They do this because interaction = views and views = money. That same thought process can be applied to what you see occurring during Windows updates.

Microsoft wants you to use Cortana, use their web browser and search on their engine. They want this because you become the product making them money. For some unaware they follow along with whatever changes and updates - it doesn't matter if the quality has fallen. They follow along and nothing is better for Microsoft than a user who just accepts the changes. For now I'll call out the garbage and disable it.

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