Update Microsoft appears to be experimenting with more ads in Windows 11 after eagle-eyed Insider users spotted helpful hints in File Explorer.
Windows Insider Florian posted a screenshot of the ads, and other unpaid testers said they noticed similar clues lurk in the Dev Channel release, with an announcement suggesting users visit Microsoft’s Office website to check out PowerPoint templates.
Our Dev Channel sacrificial machine (currently running 22572.201 – yet another servicing pipeline test) isn’t showing messages, suggesting Microsoft is doing some kind of A/B testing and we’re just not sure. the list.
Some people will go crazy if Microsoft starts adding ads in Explorer. pic.twitter.com/rusnyrYyX2
— Florian (@flobo09) March 12, 2022
The ad that was spotted by Florian suggests that the user might want to use Microsoft Editor.
There was no mention of the helpful tips in the latest Windows Insider release notes, though Microsoft has some form when it comes to posting ads for its own services in its operating systems.
Microsoft also infamously attempted to insert third-party advertisements into its email client during the heyday of Windows 10.
Unsurprisingly, the reaction so far has been universally negative, with some jokers suggesting the team responsible had “lost their minds”. Others mumbled darkly that the switch from “My Computer” to “This PC” (which, to be fair, happened long before Windows 11) was a symptom of greater malaise.
The attempt to sell advertising services is not entirely new; we regularly see ads for Microsoft products popping up in all sorts of places – the Windows 10 Start menu on this author’s PC, for example, insists that our online purchases would be safer with Microsoft OneDrive. Then there’s the way Microsoft has forced its new Edge browser on customers who aren’t always willing to do so.
However, using File Explorer this way might just be a step too far for many users. After all, there are plenty of alternatives to File Explorer, and if you’d rather continue using your own PC hardware without Redmond’s messaging, Windows isn’t the essential thing it once was.
The register has contacted Microsoft to learn more about its plans and will update if the Windows giant responds.
In the meantime, the ads so far seem limited to the Dev Channel, meaning this particular method of directing the user to the company’s services may never see the light of day. ®
Updated to add at 1705 UTC March 15
Brandon LeBlanc, senior product manager for the Windows team, said The register in a statement: “This was an experimental banner that was not intended for external posting and has been disabled.”