One of the major arguments made against Google is that, to them, you are the product. That means they expect you to endure frequent ads and perhaps click on a few (maybe buy something) to generate cash. That’s a price for a free online service, because someone has to pay the bills. So the bills are paid by advertisers who want to reach you with their products or services.
Some sites put ads in your face when you are simply trying to read an article. Notable offenders include CNN and USA Today, which start playing multimedia ads within seconds after clicking on a story; you have to click Stop to halt this nonsense. Other sites throw up an interstitial ad, one that covers the grayed-out content, until you click an “X” to get rid of it.
Unfortunately, such intrusions make you want to avoid those sites, or web ads altogether, even though they are often crucial to the survival of a site. That explains why many people choose ad blockers to conceal that stuff, and I wouldn’t blame them. Well, except for the fact that we depend on those ads for part of our income.
In all this, however, the ads are run by third parties, and thus they do not intrude on your privacy unless you visit their sites, or use their apps. But what about the OS itself?
About the closest Apple comes to selling you stuff is when you click on an app that’s devoted to selling you stuff, such as the App Store for iOS and macOS or iTunes. You can also expand iCloud Drive storage from the OS, but it takes digging deep through multiple menus to find an order screen.
But what if the OS placed ads in the Dock, or its rough equivalent in Windows, the Task Bar. Should you be forced to see ads to buy OneDrive subscriptions when you use third-party browsers in Windows 10? Well, it appears you are.
Talk about nagging.
There’s also a published report, with screenshot confirmation, indicating how Microsoft also inserts similar ads into the File Explorer, the Windows equivalent of the Finder. The OneDrive ad I saw touts an Office 365 plan that includes Office and 1TB storage for prices that start at $6.99 per month. Honestly, it’s not a bad deal, but I do not want to be reminded of it during the course of selecting and opening files on a personal computer.
In response to an inquiry from AppleInsider, Microsoft released this statement: “The new tips notifications within the File Explorer in Windows 10 were designed to help Windows 10 customers by providing quick, easy information to enhance the experience relative to storage and cloud file management. That said, with Windows 10 customers can easily opt out of receiving these notifications if they choose.”
Easy, to Microsoft, requires a six-step process, according to AppleInsider. Clearly Microsoft remains clueless about what simple means, and the extent to which forcing you to do extra chores intrudes on your digital life. Worse, it appears the setting will revert itself when you apply an OS patch.
I wonder why Microsoft is so desperate to sell Office and cloud storage subscriptions.
Then again, consider how Microsoft attempted to put Windows 10 in your face during its first year, when it was a free download to consumers. In some cases, it would be automatically downloaded to your PC whether you could spare a few gigabytes for the file or not. Worse, the installer would sometimes do its stuff without your approval. In one notorious case, an under-the-radar interface change allowed the setup process to begin when you clicked “X” to leave a Windows 10 prompt. That was the reverse of the standard process.
I recall one instance in which a radio talk show host complained, during an on-the-air segment, how Windows 10 had begun to install on a PC they used to manage listener call-ins. At the time, he vowed to switch to a Mac or, at the urging of one listener, maybe consider a go with Linux.
Now it is true that Apple has been known to download a full OS install in the background on your Mac. You can easily turn off background OS downloads in System Preferences, under App Store. Even then, you still have to actually click on an installer app to begin the setup process. You might argue that a major upgrade is not just an “update,” which implies a maintenance fix, but at least you aren’t going to have to endure an installation you don’t want.
Apple might want you to install the latest and greatest macOS (and iOS), but it is doing so in a far less intrusive way than Microsoft. At the same time, aside from that year of freebies, Microsoft is still exacting high prices if you want to acquire an OS upgrade.
Now the exposure of Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to sell products and services may not mean much for Windows users who may be accustomed to such nonsense by now. Don’t forget all the junkware supplied on new PCs. But maybe it would make more sense if Microsoft ended the practice of charging you for new versions of Windows, and relied strictly on OEM sales and support contracts. That way, you might forgive their efforts to sell you stuff. But not after you’ve already paid for a retail product.
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