Every Screen in Your Home is a Billboard — We Need to Fight It

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Wake up and from the moment you open your eyes and reach for your phone, you will be bombarded with hundreds of unskippable ads in your inbox and the newsfeeds of your most used apps.

By the time you have finished your breakfast and logged into your work laptop, this familiar narrative continues in everything from the ads inside Windows 11 to your favorite streaming platform — even your Amazon Alexa might chip in and ask you to buy stuff.

Although most people will tolerate ads in free products or services, users do not expect them after purchasing Windows 11 from the biggest company in the world by market cap.

Are we about to (and if not, can we) see a backlash against businesses that fill up their expensive products with ads?

Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft has joined the game of shoving adverts in your face on a product you have paid for.
  • Despite removing ads from the weather app, Windows 11 reintroduced them, and a permanent Game Pass ad in the Settings app has sparked significant backlash.
  • Smart TVs and Amazon’s Alexa also bring intrusive ads to the living room — it’s a pervasive ad trend we should fight against.

It’s Clippy V2 as Windows 11 Places Ads All Over the OS

Last year, Microsoft upset many customers by adding a full-screen ad for its Game Pass service every time users logged into their PCs. But this was just the beginning of Microsoft’s new monetization strategy. This new approach could be found in the slow introduction of full-screen ads for Office 365 after an update to the QR code desperately prompting users to download Edge Mobile.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2024, and Windows 11 has continued to increase the number of ads users see when navigating their OS. Despite removing ads from its weather app last year in an apparent response to user feedback, the annoying ads are back, as tweets sarcastically celebrate the news.


However, the arrival of a permanent Game Pass advert in the Settings app was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back for this writer. For the most part, Windows 11 machines are used for work purposes and need to enhance productivity rather than creating longer processes or adding more mouse clicks to navigate a maze of ads to perform an important task.

In an increasingly AI-driven world and one-click shopping, the workplace demands automated and faster tools to boost productivity. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s approach of adding more clicks rather than reducing them is causing quite a stir online.

To combat the rise of user unfriendliness, developers turned to GitHub to share solutions of how people can fight back and remove all ads from the Windows 11 OS by using a tool that changes specific keys in the Windows Registry.

Twenty years after Windows users mocked the heavily advertised intrusive and annoying Clippy, Microsoft appears to be on another collision course with its customers. However, this trend is not isolated to PCs. It can be found on every screen that attracts your gaze.

Is your Smart TV and Living Room Becoming a Billboard?

The days when the only ads you saw were confined to the TV channels you tuned into are long gone. The so-called Smart TV experience we were (mis)sold has evolved into a 55″ billboard where the ads are impossible to avoid from the moment you switch it on.

Whether you pay $2,000 for the latest LG or Samsung Smart TV, the result is often a series of unremovable ads and apps. Considering Vizio generated  $1.86 billion in 2022, with 75% of its income derived from television sales, don’t expect those ads for “three months free AppleTV+” to disappear anytime soon.

Advertisers have IP address tags for every connected TV, and unlike your smartphone, it’s not moving, so they have your fixed location and viewing habits, which is invaluable to brands. As a result, we expect large TVs to drop in price so marketers can get more eyes on their ads.

The Cost of Amazon’s Ad-Heavy Digital Ecosystem

There has also been an increase in users complaining that Amazon’s Alexa keeps interrupting their day, asking them if they want to buy stuff. Luckily, users can stop Alexa from suggesting purchase ideas by following these steps:

  1. Launch the Alexa app on your iPhone or Android device.
  2. Navigate to Settings.
  3. Tap on Notifications.
  4. Select Amazon Shopping.
  5. Disable the option for “personalized recommendations and deals based on your shopping activity.”

According to Reuters, Amazon is working on a new AI-powered Alexa with the unimaginative name of “Remarkable Alexa.” The price of admission for this digital utopia is predictably another monthly subscription of $5-$10, allowing users to access a digital assistant who answers your questions with ads.

The big question is whether even the most loyal Amazon fan is willing to pay $139 for a Prime Membership, which allows them to stream video content with ads, and an additional $120 per year for Alexa to answer questions with ads.

The bad news for cord-cutters who canceled their cable subscriptions is that the costs of their HBO, Disney+, AppleTV+, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Paramount packages are quickly increasing, and they are still watching ads like it’s 2005.

The Bottom Line

Brands and advertisers are ripping up the ownership rulebook. You could spend $1,000 on a new laptop, $2,000 on the latest Smart TV, and $500 a year in digital subscriptions, only to be inundated with intrusive advertising.

However, users are not powerless. By using community-driven solutions, such as tools shared on GitHub to modify the Windows Registry or adjust settings on devices like Amazon Alexa, consumers can counter the tide of invasive advertising and protect their online privacy.

It’s worth searching for privacy-focused alternatives before rushing in and buying or subscribing to anything. Ultimately, the collective voice of consumers demanding an ad-free experience in products they have paid for can drive significant change. But do you have enough fight to reclaim digital spaces from the relentless march of advertisements?


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Neil C. Hughes
Senior Technology Writer
Neil C. Hughes
Senior Technology Writer

Neil is a freelance tech journalist with 20 years of experience in IT. He’s the host of the popular Tech Talks Daily Podcast, picking up a LinkedIn Top Voice for his influential insights in tech. Apart from Techopedia, his work can be found on INC, TNW, TechHQ, and Cybernews. Neil's favorite things in life range from wandering the tech conference show floors from Arizona to Armenia to enjoying a 5-day digital detox at Glastonbury Festival and supporting Derby County.  He believes technology works best when it brings people together.