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Built-in Windows 10 ads annoy IT pros

Advertisements are pretty unavoidable on your favorite websites and social media. Now users have to deal with them on Windows 10, too.

On its lock screen, Windows 10 displays ads for apps, games and movies users can download from the Windows Store. Windows 10 Home, Pro and Enterprise all come with the Windows Store — and its ads –built in.

“It’s something I’ve accepted, but that’s not to say I like it,” said Steven Powers, IT manager at Millar, a medical technology provider in Houston. “I hardly notice it now because I’ve become so accustomed to it. If I were a paying person, I’d be more upset over it.”

Millar deployed Windows 10 Pro as a free upgrade, and the IT department hasn’t heard any complaints from users about ads yet, Powers said. But users of Reddit’s forum for systems administrators have taken issue with Microsoft advertising to their enterprise users, calling it “unacceptable” and “insane.”

Some commenters complained that Microsoft posts ads despite businesses having already paid for Windows 10, but organizations that took advantage of the operating system’s free promotion period said it’s just the cost of using that complimentary offer.

Windows 10 runs on desktops and tablets, so it shows a lock screen on PCs similar to those on most smartphones and tablets, which is where the ads appear. The operating system displays suggested apps to download in the Start Menu as well.

There are ways to block the Windows 10 ads, however. In the Enterprise edition, administrators can turn off both the lock screen and Start Menu ads through Group Policy. In the Home and Pro editions, disabling the lock screen ads is a matter of turning off Windows Spotlight in the Settings tab. Users can turn off Start Menu ads in Home and Pro by switching off the Occasionally Show Suggestions option in the Start settings.

Another pop-up nuisance is when Windows 10 asks users for input on their experiences. If a Microsoft application adds a new feature, for example, Windows 10 randomly displays questions asking users what they think of it. Users can close the pop-up windows without responding, but it can be distracting when they’re focused on something else.

“That’s kind of annoying,” Powers said. “You might feel obligated to answer.”