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7 ways Windows 10 pushes ads at you, and how to stop them

Brad Chacos | March 4, 2016
The cure for one of Windows 10's biggest headaches.

Windows 10 may be “free,” but there’s a price to pay for claiming your no-cost upgrade from Windows 7 or 8: The operating system’s brimming with ads designed to coax you into buying this app or using that Microsoft service.

Some of the ads are pretty unobtrusive, to be fair. Several get right up in your face, however—an unfortunate experience in any case, but one that hurts even more if you’ve already dropped $100-plus on a Windows 10 license rather than snagging a free upgrade. Fortunately, most of Windows 10’s ad pushing can be disabled with a few simple menu tweaks, and it’s worth making the effort to do so, since Windows 10 is the best Windows yet once you get rid of irritating crap like this.

Roll up your sleeves, folks. It’s time to start silencing those annoying Windows 10 ads.

Lock screen ads

Let’s start with the inspiration for this article. In February, Microsoft began displaying ads on Windows 10’s lock screen, after promising to roll out lock screen ad units nearly a year ago. And while the Rise of the Tomb Raider ads looked gorgeous, well, they’re still ads. And they’re only the beginning, unless you disable lock screens ads now.

To do so, simply head to Settings > Personalization > Lock Screen and turn off the box that reads “Get fun facts, tips, tricks, and more on your lock screen.” That option only appears if you have a Picture or Slideshow selected as the Background option, though. If you’re pulling in Bing images from the Windows Spotlight setting, you won’t be able to disable that setting.

Start menu ads

I never thought I’d be writing “How to turn off ads in the Windows Start menu,” but here we are.

As you’re scrolling through your Start menu, you’ll occasionally see “Suggested” listings for Windows Store apps that you don’t actually own. They’re not technically ads, as the developers aren’t paying for inclusion in your Start menu; rather, it’s a program created by Microsoft to suggest further app installations based on your Windows Store history. Either way, you might not want to see them.

The easiest way to disable Start menu ads is to right-click one when you see it, then select “Turn off all suggestions” from the options that appear. If you want to be more proactive, head to Settings > Personalization > Start and disable “Occasionally show suggestions in Start.”

Get Office and Skype

Some of the most annoying native Windows ads are the pop-up notifications cajoling your to get Office or Skype, even if you already have Office and Skype. It’s an irritating takeover of the otherwise useful Windows 10 Action Center.


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