Microsoft nagging Windows 11 users with malware-like notifications to use Bing

Microsoft thinks that it's OK to show unwanted pop-ups on the desktop to switch to Bing if you're using another search engine.

Windows 11 Bing switch popup
Windows 11 Bing switch popup / Image: The Verge

Windows 11 has been showing unwanted malware-like pop-ups on the desktop, trying to lure users into switching from Google to Bing as their default search engine. According to a report from The Verge, the pop-up suddenly showed up above the game when Chrome was running in the background.

The notification wasn’t friendly either since it appeared in the bottom-left corner of the screen and didn’t resemble anything Windows 11 shows to users. It looked more like a malware. Upon investigation, it’s been noticed that the message was being generated by a file digitally signed by Microsoft located in “C:\windows\temp\mubstemp.”

The Verge contacted Microsoft regarding this issue, and the company responded that it’s aware of “these reports and have paused this notification while we investigate and take appropriate action to address this unintended behavior.”

Although the company is taking action regarding this incident, it’s unclear why the application that can show this type of notification exists inside the operating system in the first place. Also, even though media outlets are reporting this now, many users have been dealing with these malware-like pop-ups for months.

Usually, it’s understandable that companies want to promote their apps and services to reach as many users as possible, but it’s becoming more aggressive, intrusive, and frustrating each time.

Also, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. We have seen similar strategies when the company started displaying unwanted notifications to upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 10 and from Windows 10 to Windows 11.

Furthermore, it’s also frustrating that the company is constantly trying to lure users into using its products and services. For example, the Settings app now shows you when you’re running out of space in OneDrive to upgrade the service. Starting on Windows 11 23H2, the Start menu will start showing account-related notifications, but it all seems to be a strategy to get users into using the company’s cloud services.

Whether you use the legacy Mail or Photos apps, you will quickly start seeing reminders to sign up for a Microsoft 365 subscription. Microsoft Edge is constantly popping out notifications to make the browser the system default or trying to get you to use the browser with a Microsoft account.

And these are only some of the tactics that the company uses. We can also mention all the apps that come pre-installed in the Start menu from different companies (such as Disney, Facebook, Spotify, etc.) on every new installation of the operating system. The content is promoted on the Search homepage when you try to search for something on your computer. Or the Widgets dashboard that pretty much promotes marketing content from the MSN network.

Although the operating system may seem like a free piece of software, in reality, it isn’t since the company has to make up that loss somehow. However, I think there are better ways to handle this instead of being so intrusive. I really hope that Microsoft realizes this and changes the way it promotes apps and services.

Image: Courtesy from The Verge

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 15 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 21 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].