Microsoft has published the optional non-security March 2023 preview update for Windows 11 with a search box that matches the current color scheme and a new feature that the company defines as “notifications for Microsoft accounts.”

The KB5023778 non-security update for Windows 11 includes several enhancements and bug fixes, including new Microsoft Defender for Endpoint capabilities and a workaround for a Microsoft PowerPoint freezing issue.

KB5023778 is optional and does not contain security updates. It is a monthly non-security preview release that enables Windows administrators test enhancements that will be sent out on the Patch Tuesday of the following month.

You may manually download and install this preview update from the Microsoft Update Catalog.

Microsoft product promotion in the Start menu

As previously reported, this month’s preview version also includes a new set of alerts (which some may refer to as advertisements) that will appear in the sign-out flyout of the Windows 11 Start menu.

Microsoft states, “This update introduces alerts for Microsoft accounts on the Start menu, but only to a limited audience at this time.”

In the following months, it will be rolled out more generally, and certain devices may see alternative aesthetic treatments as we collect feedback.

This “feature” has been being tested since at least November 2022, when Windows enthusiast Albacore saw the first prototype.

Many images obtained by Albacore depicted Microsoft pushing the OneDrive file-hosting service or encouraging users to form or finish Microsoft accounts.

“Microsoft account alerts” (or start menu advertising messages) were met with negative responses on social media (to say the least).

Today, Microsoft has provided a (small) example of how these alerts would appear, including a message urging Windows 11 users to back up their files to the cloud (presumably using the company’s OneDrive service).

Notices for accounts with Microsoft

New notification feature for Microsoft accounts (Microsoft)
This is not the first time Microsoft has integrated product advertisements into the user interface of Windows applications.

As part of a Windows Insider test in August 2022, it presented advertisements for Microsoft 365 Family memberships to Office 2021 subscribers and advertisements for various Microsoft products (including Microsoft Editor) in the File Explorer app.

The File Explorer was again injected with OneDrive advertisements in 2016, while the Windows 10 Wordpad program displayed advertisements for Microsoft’s free Office online applications four years later.

Microsoft also marketed its Microsoft Edge web browser on the Windows 10 Start Menu and damaged the Start Menu and Taskbar inadvertently when testing Microsoft Teams advertisements on select Windows Insider releases.

Other highlights in this month’s report

The Windows 11 KB5023778 preview release includes further bug fixes and enhancements, some of which are listed below.

  • This update resolves a Windows Search-related bug. Windows Search is not supported within Windows container images.
  • This revision impacts the Group Policy Editor. It adds Transport Layer Security (TLS) version 1.3 to the list of configurable protocols.
  • This update fixes a problem affecting Microsoft HTML Application Host (HTA). This vulnerability prevents the execution of code that utilizes Microsoft HTA when Windows Defender Application Control (WDAC) is configured to enforce User Mode Code Integrity (UMCI).
  • This update resolves a problem affecting the Remote Procedure Call Service (rpcss.exe). The vulnerability might result in a race situation between the Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) and the Microsoft Remote Procedure Call (RPC) endpoint mapper.
  • Microsoft cautioned today that there would be no further preview cumulative updates for supported Windows 10 systems beginning next month.

Microsoft stated that after March 2023, there would be no further optional, non-security preview releases for supported versions of Windows 10, version 20H2 and Windows 10, version 21H2.

Windows 10 version 22H2 will continue to get both security and optional updates.

In addition, beginning in April 2023, optional non-security preview upgrades will be published on the Tuesday of the fourth week of the month, replacing the “C” and “D” releases that were previously delivered in the third and fourth weeks, respectively.

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