IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Microsoft has been caught testing ads in the Windows 11 File Explorer

Windows users threaten to make the switch to Linux after an Insider flagged new adverts in File Explorer

Microsoft has reportedly begun testing ads inside its products again as Windows Insiders observed suggestions for other Microsoft products in File Explorer.

Florian Beaubois, a Windows Insider who earned a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award in 2021, posted a screenshot on social media showing the ad for Microsoft Editor inside a preview build of Windows 11.

“Some people will go mad if Microsoft starts adding ads in Explorer,” he said, and the community has likewise expressed their distaste for the addition in various posts and communities online. 

It’s currently unclear whether the feature, if it's included in a generally available build, could be turned off in settings, or whether Microsoft is seriously planning to keep the ads on a permanent basis, but Microsoft told IT Pro the advert was experimental and has now been removed.

"This was an experimental banner that was not intended to be published externally and was turned off,” said Brandon LeBlanc, senior product manager at Windows.

Some Windows users said if the feature remains, they will make the switch to Linux and others have expressed more emotional responses.

One Twitter user directed a message to Windows Insider’s social media channel saying: “Y'all better stop this nonsense now. If you want people ditching Explorer for something else, this is how you do it. Cut it out.”

Related Resource

Improve security and compliance

Adopting an effective security and compliance risk management approach

Whitepaper cover with image of a shield with red outline, red numbers 1s & 0s, red cubes and white cloud outlinesFree Download

“Oh hell no,” said another observer. 

For business users, there is a likelihood that such a feature could be removed using group policies set by a company's system administrators, even if the feature could not be disabled in the consumer-grade settings menu.

It’s also unlikely that most businesses will ever switch from Windows to a Linux environment given the operational complexity with such a shift, and other complications like training staff on a brand-new operating system.

Microsoft has a history of testing adverts embedded within its products and Windows 10 users will be familiar with the company testing ads across the operating system, including in File Explorer. Some users have also previously reported being served full-screen ads for free trials of Microsoft products like Microsoft 365.

Microsoft has also experimented with additional in-Windows ads as recently as March 2021, with Windows 10 users reporting ads in the Start Menu, at the time.

All of these features could be disabled in the Windows settings menus, but they have annoyed users who have become accustomed used to an ad-free experience in Windows in the decades prior to the experimentation in Windows 10.

Featured Resources

Four strategies for building a hybrid workplace that works

All indications are that the future of work is hybrid, if it's not here already

Free webinar

The digital marketer’s guide to contextual insights and trends

How to use contextual intelligence to uncover new insights and inform strategies

Free Download

Ransomware and Microsoft 365 for business

What you need to know about reducing ransomware risk

Free Download

Building a modern strategy for analytics and machine learning success

Turning into business value

Free Download

Recommended

Microsoft says it's provided over $100 million in tech support to Ukrainian government
cyber attacks

Microsoft says it's provided over $100 million in tech support to Ukrainian government

20 May 2022
Microsoft to double salary budget to retain workers
Careers & training

Microsoft to double salary budget to retain workers

17 May 2022
Microsoft warns of new botnet variant targeting Windows and Linux systems
Security

Microsoft warns of new botnet variant targeting Windows and Linux systems

16 May 2022
Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies
Server & storage

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies

12 May 2022

Most Popular

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack
hacking

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack

16 May 2022
Researchers demonstrate how to install malware on iPhone after it's switched off
Security

Researchers demonstrate how to install malware on iPhone after it's switched off

18 May 2022
Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies
Server & storage

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies

12 May 2022