Windows 8, Microsoft’s newest and greatest OS, has built-in advertisements in some native applications. There was an uproar this morning about the situation, but hey: don’t panic. And definitely don’t start calling a foul. Let’s get a few things straight: first, the applications that have ads built in are all related to Bing’s services. That includes the Finance, Weather, and Travel apps, along with a couple others. While there are advertisements in these apps, they are rather tastefully done. As these ads weren’t even discovered until today, after almost a year of Windows 8 being available to testers and more than a week after the official public release, it’s easy to conclude that most people don’t notice them. And, due to the nature of both Windows 8 and the apps in question, it is easy to completely ignore the applications which are affected.
The more troubling issue is ad tracking: Microsoft has not released any information to the public regarding their policies on these in-app ads. So while the fact that the ads are present isn’t particularly troubling, the idea that Microsoft could be tracking its users clicks is slightly more worrying.
And then there’s the argument that ad tracking isn’t even bad. While advertising certainly isn’t the most popular behavior on the internet, it is the driving force behind the economics of the open web. Ad tracking does provide a valuable service in that it helps to personalize the advertisements to those looking at them.