Microsoft's Big Hidden Windows 8 Feature: Built-In Advertising - HotHardware
Microsoft's Big Hidden Windows 8 Feature: Built-In Advertising

Microsoft's Big Hidden Windows 8 Feature: Built-In Advertising

Despite the fact that I've been using Windows 8 for the past three weeks, I somehow managed to overlook a rather stark feature in the OS: ads. No, we're not talking about ads cluttering up the desktop or login screen (thankfully), but rather ads that can be found inside of some Modern UI apps that Windows ships with. That includes Finance, Weather, Travel, News and so forth. Is it a problem? Let's tackle this from a couple of different angles.

The Modern UI (Metro) interface of Windows 8 essentially delivers a mobile experience on whatever device it's used on, be it a desktop, notebook or tablet. On previous mobile platforms, such as iOS and Android, seeing ads inside of free apps hasn't been uncommon. It's a way for the developer to get paid while allowing the user to have the app for free. That's where the first big difference comes in. While people can expect ads in a free app, no one expects ads in a piece of software that they just paid good money for. I actually can't think of another immediate example where a piece of paid software shows ads.

But there are other angles to look at this from. People subscribe to cable, and see ads. However, the difference there is that's a recurring subscription, and it could be assumed that without ads, cable fees would be much higher. Then there's the fact that the apps inside of the Modern UI are all Internet-capable, so in a sense, they all act like their own customized browser. We're used to seeing ads on websites, so is this really that different? It's hard to say, but again, as free services, that's to be expected.

The answer of just how wrong Microsoft is to cram advertisements in its commercial software will differ from person to person, I'm sure. Me, I'm not too bothered, but I can totally relate to anyone who is. From all I can tell, none of the ads are intrusive, and I appreciate that. As for them being in paid software, that doesn't bother me either because of that above fact. However, I am bothered by other aspects.

The biggest mistake here on Microsoft's behalf is that no one is made aware of these ads until they happen to stumble on them. No one is going to expect ads to be loaded in their paid-for OS, so a notification of that at first boot would be appreciated. Further, no one is given the option to disable them (though I'm sure it'd take little more than an editing of the hosts file). Finally, there's also the fact that these ads haven't decreased the price of the OS, else that'd be a point Microsoft would no doubt flaunt.

We can't talk about the inclusion of ads and not mention the "T" word: tracking. I haven't been able to find any information on whether or not Microsoft's tracking the ads you are clicking on, but if that is indeed the case, we'll find out soon enough. Unlike Windows 7 and earlier, your entire Windows 8 account can be tied to an e-mail account, so it would be rather easy for Microsoft to track things on a personal level - much like how Google does with its search engine, e-mail and so forth. This alone gives good reason to be concerned.

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Are you okay with Microsoft infusing the Modern UI with ads? Would you ever be interested in a less expensive version of Windows that was ad-supported?

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Just type "sudo apt-get remove unity-lens-shopping", or uncheck the option in system settings.

Oh wait, on Windows.... just live with it.

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He's talking about the Apps having ads, not the OS!

Anyway, apparently MS is doing this to promote the In-App Ads capabilities to garner advertisement business. So far 25 brands, including Coca-Cola, Ford and Samsung, have signed up.

So we may or may not see Ads in future paid Apps, since right now it's promotional.

Mind MS is spending hundreds of million, with possibly upwards towards a billion world wide, on advertisement for Windows 8. So they're not considering just the cost of the software and they are trying to set up some new business models going forward.

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>> "He's talking about the Apps having ads, not the OS!"

Built-in apps are as much a part of the OS as Unity plug-ins are - they both come with the system, and you never have to use either. So, either both are part of the OS, or neither are. At least the ones in Unity are showing you things you're searching for.

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No, Apps are Apps regardless of whether they come pre-installed or not. It won't change the OS UI if they are there or not!

Besides, the point of the article is they're putting it in paid apps!

Free Apps are pretty much expected to have Ads these days but people aren't used to getting them in paid Apps.

The comparison to desktop Linux is also flawed because there isn't a business model for desktop Linux Apps, most are Open Source and free, along with a smaller user base to earn enough income via adverts.

While the MS App business model is like the one Google and Apple are using.

Though I'm sure we'll start seeing ads on desktop Linux once options like Valve's Steam become available and introduce pay for games/apps business model...

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I agree on many points here. The sad thing is though, if Ubuntu implemented ads like Microsoft did here, people would be burning Canonical at the stake... that's a fact. Just look at how people treated the introduction of the Amazon ads in the latest release. And this... for a 100% cost-free OS! If companies like Canonical didn't need money, things like that wouldn't be implemented. I am quite certain the $40 - $200 people pay for a Windows license more than takes care of the need to introduce ads into the OS.

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> " there isn't a business model for desktop Linux Apps"

Then... you proceed to mention Steam, and its traditional business model. :\  Valve's not exactly the first company to do that on Linux.  This might shock you, but Ubuntu has an entire store/"Software Center" that will sell you apps... and was doing so before Windows.

On Linux, there is every model present on Windows.  I've bought apps on many occasions - it's just that most app-creating entities lean towards service models that only charge business clients instead.  If you think Linux is thriving because no one knows how to get paid, you're wrong; many of the contributors are paid to do their work by large corporations.

> "Free Apps are pretty much expected to have Ads these day"

Except on Linux, where a huge percentage of apps are free, and damn near *zero* of them have Ads.  I was being gracious by mentioning the Unity stuff, which you can easily disable - or sidestep completely by using more than a dozen other freely available desktops.

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" This might shock you, but Ubuntu has an entire store/"Software Center" that will sell you apps... and was doing so before Windows."

Sorry, not news and it doesn't change anything stated! Fact remains that has never been the main business model for linux, especially for Open Source Advocates! Also doesn't change that until now that it has never had strong ties to other major companies but bringing in companies like Valve does!

Besides, the point is it's part of companies like Valve's business model and Apps acquired through them will likely have In-App advertisement and you will not likely be able to get rid of them!

"If you think Linux is thriving because no one knows how to get paid, you're wrong; many of the contributors are paid to do their work by large corporations."

Some are but that isn't the point to many who use Linux, especially the Open Source advocates! Also, there isn't the same incentive for developers to really invest their time as there are for more traditional business models. Thus why Linux still lacks many of the more advance software packages.

Solutions like gimp are no replacement for Photoshop, ditto for advance audio and video editing applications.

"Except on Linux, where a huge percentage of apps are free, and damn near *zero* of them have Ads."

You're confusing what used to be with what will be happening! The business model is going to change as Valve and others start to entering the Linux market and In-App advertisement will probably the least of the changes it will bring.

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"companies like Valve's business model and Apps acquired through them will likely have In-App advertisement and you will not likely be able to get rid of them!"

Hmmm... nothing like that came with my OS.  Nor, is it likely to - thanks to the way open-source operating systems work.  If I choose to pay for adverts, fine:  I know what's coming - it's not at all like the stealthiness of the ads which this article implies.

"Solutions like gimp are no replacement for Photoshop,"

For the vast majority of us, they are. I'm a guy who took actual for-pay Photoshop classes years ago, and since leaving I've never been wanting for a feature. I used Gimp several times this week, with ease.  Point me to one thing on this site that can be done with Photoshop, but not Gimp. The world wonders.

" Thus why Linux still lacks many of the more advance software packages."

I suppose that would depend on your definition of 'advanced', since Linux runs just about everything - including more than 90% of the worlds supercomputers and server farms. A few security-plagued Adobe and Microsoft products does not the world make.  When anything is so 'important' as to be necessary, it has always appeared (most times before the Windows version).

"You're confusing what used to be with what will be happening!"

And you're confusing your ability to predict/control the future with reality.  Nothing Valve is doing changes anything in the Linux ecosystem - it just makes it easier to purchase some closed-source games for those of us that don't find that idea offensive.

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"Hmmm... nothing like that came with my OS. Nor, is it likely to - thanks to the way open-source operating systems work."

Nope, because when they bring things like Valve's Steam to Linux that means they're also bring non-open source software!

Having a Open Source OS won't change that! For the most part Windows has traditionally been very customizable too, at least by people who had sufficient level of knowledge. Windows users just had to deal with DRM and other closed source issues much more than Linux users, but changing the market ecosystem can bring all the same issue to Linux too!

Really, Android is Open Source too but you don't see any easy way to stop In-App ads there either!

"For the vast majority of us, they are. I'm a guy who took actual for-pay Photoshop classes years ago, and since leaving I've never been wanting for a feature. I used Gimp several times this week, with ease. Point me to one thing on this site that can be done with Photoshop, but not Gimp. The world wonders."

There's a ton of things you can do with Photoshop but not Gimp. Really, point to a single business that uses Gimp commercially instead of Photoshop?

Gimp is functional and you can do a lot, but Photoshop is easier to use, has more features and capabilities, and has far more support behind it.

Besides, what vast majority? Vast majority of people aren't using Gimp! Vast majority of desktop PC users aren't even using Linux.

"I suppose that would depend on your definition of 'advanced', since Linux runs just about everything - including more than 90% of the worlds supercomputers and server farms. A few security-plagued Adobe and Microsoft products does not the world make. When anything is so 'important' as to be necessary, it has always appeared (most times before the Windows version)."

Sorry but the facts are that those products make money and are used by professional! There's nothing really security plagued about them! MS isn't on the top ten list anymore of vulnerable software! And most of Adobe's issue is with Flash and not major products like Photoshop.

While most of that 90% is not desktop Linux! Many servers don't even use a GUI and tend to have custom software! So hardly compare!

"And you're confusing your ability to predict/control the future with reality. Nothing Valve is doing changes anything in the Linux ecosystem - it just makes it easier to purchase some closed-source games for those of us that don't find that idea offensive."

Wrong, first thing Valve isn't going to just sell games on Steam. They're going to be making it a general purpose App Store. Second, the point is you'll have the same issue with In-App ads no matter the OS and the Linux app ecosystem is going to change when you start introducing App market system like Valve will offer, which won't be the only change but just the first of many.

While what MS is doing isn't the first time paid apps have had ads. It's just not something usually done, but even Android has the occasional paid app with Ads. Video games have long had ads regardless of whether they were free or paid.

So it's more a question of whether MS intends this to be regular or whether it's just promotional to get advertising companies to sign up with them.

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"Really, Android is Open Source too but you don't see any easy way to stop In-App ads there either!"

But it is easy. Just install adfree android. Works great.

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Oops. Sorry, that's only for rooted phones.

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Besides, we were talking about easy ways to do it with the OS... No advantage in using a 3rd party app as you can do that with Windows too and without rooting...

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Alright, that made me LOL. Good one.

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Not, these ads are not in Windows, they are in the Bing apps which can be unpinned and not used. So no, you don't have to live with it you idiot.

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There are two third-party programs I consider absolutely necessary with Windows 8: Classic Shell, and Hostsman. The former gives you back the Start Menu, so you aren't constantly seeing that eyesore called "modern UI," and the other completely blocks thousands of malicious Web sites - including the major advertising services.

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Editing the hosts file is a stupid thing to do. At least it will slow your system down. At worst, it will cause some apps to not work at all.

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What a non-story.

The built in Stock application on i devices are "powered by Yahoo". Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's an advertisement for Yahoo.

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No, you'd be wrong. That's really a credit citation on a service being provided by the source service, in this case Yahoo, so there's no confusion on source information or copyright ownership.

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As far as I know, there is no "Stocks" application that comes with iOS 6. I added one from Yahoo!, but it's not built-in.

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The only adds i have seen have been on the webpages which is standard, and some of the free apps i have downloaded. I get the same thing on my android phone with some free apps nothing really new or anything....

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The difference is that these apps come included with the OS you paid for. We're not talking about third-party apps here. I don't recall ever coming across a first-party app bundled with a phone that had ads in it.

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I guess you don't own a newer device then? Many new devices with Android are more and more coming with ads built into the included apps. Not to mention many tracking methods turned on and you are unable to turn them off.

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Been using win8 for a while now. Even in the free apps I've downloaded not an advert to be seen. What kind of timeframe are we looking at here I wonder.

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Kindle Fire has ads in the OS.

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Amazon is selling the Kindle Fire roughly at cost. I don't have a Kindle Fire: are the ads for stuff that Amazon sells? Does clicking on an ad take you to an Amazon page? If so, that's the whole idea behind the Kindle Fire.

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