Last week, Microsoft pushed a new version of Windows 11 to Windows Insiders users, and soon the first testers to install the new version were experiencing problems with the desktop, Start menu, taskbar, and other core components crashing and failing to load frequently. The first testers soon experienced problems with the desktop, Start menu, taskbar and other core components crashing and failing to load. Microsoft also quickly identified the problem and provided a fix registry entry Microsoft also quickly identified the problem and provided a workaround.
Built-in advertising communication problems cause crashes
Microsoft did not disclose details of the problem, but foreign developer Daniel Aleksandersen investigated it thoroughly and shared the problem on Twitter and Reddit, where he came up with a number of solutions. Most of the solutions refer to the device not being able to communicate with Microsoft servers, and Daniel’s initial assessment is that the problem is not caused by the updates provided in this Windows Update, but by a small file downloaded by a Windows component called IrisService, one of the many cloud services built into Windows. IrisService is part of the Windows Spotlight service, which is responsible for getting the day’s Bing wallpaper; lock screen alerts, promotions, suggestions; and advertisements.
Daniel then narrowed the problem down to a registry key containing the serial number JSON blob, according to the solution provided by Microsoft. The blob contains an advertisement promoting Microsoft’s instant collaboration tool Microsoft Teams, and if you haven’t set up a Windows account on Teams, you can view the contents of the panel by using Win + C. If you haven’t set up a Windows account on Teams, you can view the panel using Win + C. The information and images in the blob are identical to those in the blob. At this point it’s basically confirmed that it’s a problem with Teams’ ads communicating with the server that’s causing the desktop to go down and crash.
Ads that can’t be removed, things that still need to be fixed before the official release
Microsoft has been pushing ads to the system since Windows 10, and Windows 11 is no exception. Microsoft Teams is now integrated into the system and this ad pops up as a notification and the user will still receive the push even if they have turned off all notifications. There are also many components of the current Windows system that fetch content from the cloud at all times, from Bing wallpapers to information and ads, and if one of these fails to communicate properly with the server, crashing problems can occur.
Daniel said “Problems with the Insiders version were to be expected, it’s just that I didn’t expect the Windows shell architecture to be so fragile that it would stop responding because of a failed cloud service and render your computer useless just because of a JSON blob with an ad on it. Ads in Windows are important to Microsoft, but users simply don’t want them there, and with millions of people relying on Windows every day, it needs to be more robust and stable.”
Currently Microsoft offers a solution of modifying the registry, which only solves the problem for a while and doesn’t do anything to cure it, and with the release of Windows 11 coming next month, Microsoft needs to offer a more robust solution. For example, isolating less important cloud-dependent systems, from the core operating system. It’s not that Microsoft is removing valuable cloud services such as accounts, entertainment and cloud gaming here, it’s just trying to avoid a similar situation where a minor ad serving communication issue affects the proper functioning of core Windows components.