November 28, 2022

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Microsoft accidentally revealed that it is testing ads in Windows Explorer

Microsoft accidentally revealed that it is testing ads in Windows Explorer

Windows 11 testers regularly look for new Windows 11 features that Microsoft wasn’t ready to show anyone yet. Sometimes that means digging New task manager or File Explorer tabs. Sometimes that means you find ads for other Microsoft products as you browse locally stored files.

Microsoft MVP Florian Beaubois I found an example of the latter When he saw an ad promoting Microsoft Editor while viewing the Documents folder in Windows 11. In a statement to The Verge, Microsoft Senior Program Manager Brandon LeBlanc I acknowledge That the banner ad was original, but said it was “experimental” and that it was “not intended to be published externally and has been discontinued.”

Banner ad detected in build Windows 11.
Zoom / Banner ad detected in build Windows 11.

As The Verge notes, “we didn’t mean for anyone to see” is not a promise to never show ads in Windows Explorer, and Microsoft’s behavior around its Edge browserAnd the Microsoft account requirements, and claims to try OneDrive and Microsoft 365 all suggest the company has no problem with this kind of aggressive internal promotion of its products and services. It’s an unfortunate reality that comes with using big company products – you’ll get promotional Apple TV+ notifications on your iPhone, suggestions to switch to Chrome when using Gmail, or prominent ads for Alexa-based products every time you try to buy a $6 cable from Amazon.

I particularly don’t like to see Microsoft Editor prompts in the My Documents folder or a banner suggesting I try to use Clipchamp in the Videos folder (that second clip didn’t happen – just a possible example that comes to mind). But in my opinion, there’s a line between these kinds of general system folder-based suggestions and banners based on actual files or file types I’m working with in Explorer. A broad assumption like “You’re in the Documents folder; let me suggest other things related to Documents” is annoying, but doesn’t feel particularly aggressive. Any suggestion that Microsoft collects and uses information about your locally stored files so that it can better serve you advertising could cross this line.

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