Using Windows these days means putting up with many, many ads to use and buy other Microsoft products. Some are subtle, like the built-in Edge browser suggesting that you use “recommended settings” after each major update. Some are not so subtle, like the “test” test that lets some users explain why they’re trying to quit the OneDrive app.
Those who live in them European Economic Area (EEA)— which includes the EU and includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway—will soon download the volume on their Windows 11 systems. To meet the requirements of The European Commission’s Digital Products Act— slated to go into effect in March 2024—Microsoft must make its apps easy to uninstall, its default settings easy to change, and its efforts to direct people to its services easy to avoid. .
Microsoft Write in a blog post that many of these changes will be in the preview update of Windows 11 (version 23H2) this month. Windows 10 will accept such changes “on the next day.” Two changes affect all Windows 10 and 11 users:
- Applications that are critical to Windows will be labeled with a “System” icon in Settings, the Start menu, and search results.
- Camera, Cortana, and Photos can be removed
In the EEA, there is much more on the way:
- Bing web search from Start menu and Edge browser can be removed
- Third parties may add to Windows Widget Panel feeds
- Third parties, such as Google or DuckDuckGo, may provide built-in web search results that Bing has classified
- Windows users who choose to sync their Microsoft accounts will have their apps and preferences synced, which appears to preserve EEA-enabled preferences.
- Windows will now “always use client configuration utility default settings for link and file types”
Microsoft’s post notes that Windows uses the region you select during Windows installation to offer EEA-specific options. Only PC reset can change the options. EEA Windows devices will no longer receive the Microsoft Copilot preview rolled out in other markets.
The upcoming Digital Markets Act will affect other major technology companies considered “gatekeepers” providing “basic platform services” that are “most sensitive to unfair business practices.” Google has recently submitted to the European Union on the proposal of forcing Apple to make iMessage interoperable under the Act. Apple has reportedly been working on changes to iOS that would allow “group-loading” apps outside of its own Apple App Store, while another provision in the Digital Products Act would require that developers be able to use their preferred payment plan.
A companion law focused on online platforms, the Digital Services Act, will affect 19 platforms, including five Google services, Facebook and Instagram which own Meta, and Microsoft’s Bing search engine. On Wednesday, Meta became the first platform to adopt a gatekeeper position for Messenger and Market services, followed soon after by TikTok.