Microsoft could be bringing ads to the Windows 11 File Explorer [Update]
Microsoft is apparently getting ready to bring ads to even more of its products. This time, it’s the File Explorer in Windows 11 that seems to be infected by Microsoft’s self-promotion, according to what’s been reported by some Windows Insiders. Twitter user Florian B, who is also a Windows Insider MVP, shared a screenshot of the Windows 11 File Explorer with an ad promoting Microsoft Editor. The ad is reportedly showing up on the latest build in the Windows Insider Dev channel – build 22572, released last week.
Some people will go mad if Microsoft starts adding ads in explorer. pic.twitter.com/rusnyrYyX2
— Florian (@flobo09) March 12, 2022
For what it’s worth, the ad at least seems to shown where it makes some sense. Microsoft Editor is the company’s proofreading and grammar correction tool – a competitor to the more popular Grammarly. As you can see in the screenshot, the ad is shown when the user is in the Documents folder, so it’s possible that it’s only being shown where it makes sense.
Still, the bigger story here is the fact that ads are being injected into the File Explorer in the first place. Microsoft is no stranger to advertising and sometimes forcing its own products on users, so this isn’t entirely surprising, but it’s also not welcome for many users. And this isn’t the only report out there, as another user replied to mention a message inviting them to see PowerPoint templates on Office.com.
Ads are scattered all throughout Windows, and they come in many forms. If you use the built-in Mail app, you’ve probably seen the banner promoting the Outlook smartphone app to keep track of your email on your phone. When you clean install Windows, many non-Microsoft apps are pinned to your Start menu – they’re usually not installed, but installing them is one click away. At one point, Microsoft reportedly even broke Windows 11 by trying to inject an ad for Teams.
Even Microsoft Office, a piece of software that’s paid on its own, advertises Microsoft’s mobile apps. It’s worth remembering that both Windows and Office are paid software, and yet Microsoft shoves self-promotion into many parts of the experience. And that’s to say nothing of some of the things Microsoft has done to promote its Edge browser.
Aside from these two reports, not much has been said about these ads. We have yet to see File Explorer ads on our own Windows 11 PCs in the Dev channel, so it could be this is a very small-scale test, and something Microsoft will backtrack on before a general rollout. We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment on the reports and will update this article if we hear back.
Update: Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc, Senior Product Manager for Windows, has responded to our request for comment saying that the promotional banner was an internal experiment and wasn’t meant to be seen by users. Here’s the full statement:
“This was an experimental banner that was not intended to be published externally and was turned off.”
Even if it was meant to be an internal test, the fact that it’s a feature being considered in the first place may be enough to leave some users uncomfortable. We’ll have to wait and see if these ads do end up appearing in the future.
Source: Florian B (Twitter)