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Windows Central
Windows Central
Sean Endicott

"They need to make good products and let people CHOOSE to use them." How Brexit and Microsoft teamed up to ruin Windows 11

England flag over Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3.

When I first saw our report on Microsoft letting users turn off ads on Windows 11 and uninstall Edge and Bing, I clicked with anticipation to see how long I'd have to wait to rid my widgets board of MSN news. How sad I was when I saw that while Microsoft is giving users the option to clean up Windows 11, only those in the European Economic Area (EEA) will have that choice.

The EEA is an economic and political union that consists primarily of European Union (EU) countries, though some countries in the EEA aren't in the EU. When the UK left the EU, it also left the EEA.

I'll leave political and economic experts to weigh in on whether leaving the EEA was good for businesses in the UK. My main focus is that the best version of Windows 11 won't be available where I live.

Users in any of the following countries can be spared from ads and news on the widgets board:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

PCs in those markets can also uninstall Microsoft Edge and disable Bing in Windows Search.

Microsoft's blog post states that "some functionality is only available in the EEA." I think it's safe to say that Microsoft wants as many eyes as possible on ads and MSN, so it won't give anyone the option to hide them that it doesn't have to. As a result, Windows 11 in the EEA is just a bit better than Windows 11 in other regions.

Widgets board is useless on Windows 11

The widgets board on Windows 11 is full of an MSN news feed you can't disable. (Image credit: Future)

The actual widgets within the widgets board on Windows 11 are pretty handy. Spotify works instantaneously. The Outlook widget is customizable. I even like the NFL score widget that I believe comes from MSN. But the MASSIVE MSN news ruins the entire board feed that it shows.

Believe it or not, Microsoft, I don't want to see a collection of news stories on my widgets board. I'm not even sure how the idea got through beta testing. While some may like the ability to browse headlines alongside their widgets, the fact that you can't turn off the news feed is laughable.

Just give people options

(Image credit: Future)

I don't know why this is complicated. Microsoft needs to give people choices. I understand the company wants to make money and that ads and MSN are a way to drive revenue, but forced viewing on Windows 11 isn't the right path.

Maybe it's because I'm in the middle of a Stargate SG-1 marathon, but the following words ring in my head, "true belief cannot be forced." In this case, the message, or product, needs to speak for itself. Microsoft shoving its ads and revenue streams down the throats of Windows 11 users is counterproductive. I've even seen some people joke that they'll try Edge now that it will not be forced upon them.

Microsoft needs to make good products and let people choose to use them. Allowing some users to hide ads and MSN from the widgets board while not having the option for others is insulting.

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