Nothing in life is truly free, and Windows 11 is a great example of that. While Microsoft’s latest operating system is offered as a free upgrade for many users (previous migrations from older versions of Windows to newer ones would require you to pay for the privilege), behind the scenes it are many ways to end up “paying”. to use Windows 11.
This includes sharing increasing amounts of data with Microsoft, which the company was forced to specify during the setup process. Microsoft also uses Windows 11 to push you to its own services. For example, you are now required to have a Microsoft account, which usually involves signing up for a Microsoft-owned email account. You’re also encouraged to use Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage, rather than alternatives like Google Drive or iCloud.
And all this before even using Windows 11 for the first time. Once you actually boot into the OS, things get worse. The Microsoft Edge browser is installed by default, and although it has come a long way since its debut in 2015 with Windows 10, many people (including me) prefer to use other web browsers.
However, finding and installing a different browser in Windows 11 using Edge results in lots of popups and messages from Microsoft begging you to try Edge. It’s boring, and a bit grating, to be honest.
Still, you can at least ignore them, install any web browser you want, and make it the default, which Microsoft at least made easier after user pressure.
Although annoying, it was something I didn’t mind using Windows 11, which is “free”, after all. However, Microsoft is getting more and more desperate – and even greedy – when it comes to trying to force its services on me, and that’s making me start to dislike the operating system.
help yourself before you help yourself
A particularly egregious example of this occurred the other day. I’m one of those cool kids who always prefer to use a desktop computer, and I noticed that all of a sudden my computer loses internet access every 20 seconds or so.
Now, as a tech reporter, that got me thinking too much about the problem. My PC is connected to my modem via an Ethernet cable and powerline adapters. So my first step was to reboot and reconnect the adapters, which had caused a similar problem in the past.
When the problem persisted, I looked to disable and then re-enable my network adapter in Windows 11. In previous versions of Windows, this was a fairly straightforward process, but Microsoft has now buried the option under several different settings screens – another annoying feature of Windows 11.
So I decided to try the built-in network troubleshooter. Again, in previous versions of Windows, this was easy to find, and as part of the troubleshooting process, the OS would disable and then enable the network adapter, which fixed similar issues in the past.
Using the Settings app, I found what I thought was something similar called “Troubleshooting Network Connection Issues”. However, clicking on it revealed what was perhaps the nadir of Microsoft’s greed when it comes to forcing its products and services on Windows 11 users.
Instead of launching the troubleshooter app as I expected, Edge opened, despite not being my default web browser. This has been bugging me for a while now because even if you set a different web browser as your default, Microsoft will regularly ignore it and use Edge instead.
Edge then loaded Bing — Microsoft’s pretty much unloved search engine — and searched for “Troubleshooting Network Connection Issues,” which brought up a Microsoft webpage.
Now, there is a problem glaring enough to force people to search the internet for solutions to their network connection problems, and it became apparent when I tried to click on the link. Rather than showing the page, Edge told me I was offline because it coincided with a time when my PC lost connection.
Most people who suffer from network connection issues cannot access the internet due to these connection issues they are trying to fix, so it is pretty silly to force them to go online to search for an answer.
Since my network issues were intermittent, I was able to wait for my internet connection to come back and then refresh the page to see what Microsoft suggested. If my network connection issues were serious enough to prevent me from connecting to the internet, I would never have been able to see the page.
In the end, that wouldn’t have been a problem, really, as the webpage was pretty useless, just offering vague suggestions focused mostly on wifi issues – so nothing that applied to my situation.
In the end, I figured it out myself: I got on all fours and checked behind my PC. The Ethernet cable had been pulled slightly. Putting it back in solved the problem.
However, this little escapade has not only proven that I am an overly thoughtful idiot, but also that I feel like Microsoft cares more about helping its services and products than its users. The only reason for people to access a Bing search through Edge for network connection troubleshooting is to get people to use these products. It does not help to solve problems that the user may have with their network connection.
I was bored by Microsoft and much less fond of Windows 11 and the general direction the OS is heading in. Microsoft’s desire to get more people to use its services is understandable, and in some ways that’s the price we pay to get Windows 11 free, but the brutal way it’s going about it smacks of greed. and disregard for the needs of its users.
That needs to change, otherwise even when it’s free, Windows 11 won’t be worth it.