December 5, 2022

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Microsoft is testing ads in Windows 11 File Explorer

Microsoft has started testing promotions for some of its other products in the File Explorer app on devices running the latest Windows 11 Insider build.

This new Windows 11 “feature” was discovered by a Windows user and Insider MVP who subscriber Screenshot of an advertisement notification displayed above the list of folders and files to File Explorer, the default file manager in Windows.

As shown in the screenshot, Microsoft will use such ads to promote other Microsoft products, for example, about how to “Write with confidence across documents, email, and the web with advanced writing suggestions from Microsoft Editor.”

As you can imagine, the reaction to this has been counterproductive, to say the least, with some saying File Explorer is “one of the worst places to display ads”, while others added that this was the way to go if Microsoft wanted people to “give away Explorer for something else” .

BleepingComputer also tried to replicate this on a system running the latest Windows 11 Insider build, but we didn’t get any File Explorer ads.

This can likely be explained by Microsoft running an A/B testing experiment in an attempt to gauge the success of this feature or by the company disabling it after a user’s visual cry.

Window 11 File Explorer Ads
File Explorer Ads for Window 11 (flobo09)

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has added promotional messages to File Explorer, as in 2016, Microsoft also featured a OneDrive advertisement in a Windows app.

However, Redmond did not stop File Explorer and Test Ads Push Free Web Apps for Office In the menu bar of the Windows 10 Wordpad app two years ago, there was a similar protest campaign from users.

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The company also started to offer Microsoft Edge ads In the Windows 10 Start Menu every time users search for a competing browser, it prompts them to download the new Microsoft Edge.

Some of these tests also had unintended consequences, as Microsoft broke the Windows Start Menu and Taskbar in the process Microsoft Teams Upgrade Test on the insiders.

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/microsoft/microsoft-breaks-windows-11-start-menu-taskbar-with-teams-promo/

BleepingComputer has contacted Microsoft with questions regarding the File Explorer ads, but we haven’t received a response yet.

Update 3/14/22 18:48 EST: Added File Explorer announcement from 2016.