Are you kiddin' me?

Ad Armageddon

Windows users are well aware that Microsoft's operating system is already rife with ads. Well, they're more like annoying suggestions that look exactly like obnoxious pop-ups to try out its new features or apps, like Microsoft Edge, the web browser that no one uses but everyone is forced to know still exists.

But now, it looks like Microsoft is considering implementing ads for real, or in other words, allowing third parties to start putting ads up too — a planned tradeoff to allow the company to sell cheaper PCs.

Job openings at Microsoft spotted by ZDNet are looking for engineers to join the the "Windows Incubation team" that will "move Windows to a place that combines the benefits of the cloud and Microsoft 365 to offer more compute resources on demand and creates a hybrid app model that spans from on-premises to the cloud."

According to ZDNet's reporting, the job posting also boasted about providing "low-cost PCs powered through advertising and subscriptions," but it looks like that part has since been removed. We wonder why!

The Inevitable Pivot

Really, none of this should be surprising. Microsoft debuted its subscription-based Windows 365 service last year, which combines a suite of Microsoft software in a virtual computer in the cloud. And yes, Microsoft has already been pushing ads on that service too.

Its latest operating system Windows 11, which has failed to be widely adopted, even briefly flirted with showing ads in its File Explorer.

Microsoft has also proudly declared that its technology is powering Netflix's first ad-supported subscription tier.

The pivot, at this point, seems inevitable. It's something that Amazon's Kindles have been doing for years.  The computers may be cheaper, but they'll be less the pure operating systems that do what you tell them to do and more whatever Microsoft wants you to do with them. And in an era of unavoidably-ubiquitous advertising, that just sounds grim.

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