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Windows 11 shows ads in File Explorer — Microsoft tests promoting its own products [Update]

Microsoft Surface Studio
(Image credit: Future)

Update on March 16: Microsoft reached out to The Verge, stating: "This was an experimental banner that was not intended to be published externally and was turned off," senior program manager for Windows Brandon LeBlanc said. The advert on File Explorer has been taken down, but it means Windows may be finding more ways to display promotions for its own products. The original story is as follows:

Microsoft is testing showing adverts in Windows 11's File Explorer, promoting other Microsoft products in the latest Windows 11 Insider build. According to the users who spotted it, this won't be a welcome feature.

As spotted by Windows user Florian (via Bleeping Computer), the adverts show up as a notification just below the address bar. One of the adverts was used to promote Microsoft Editor, so customers could start seeing "advanced writing suggestions." While there is a basic version for free, there is also a Microsoft 365 paid subscription for the service. 

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Microsoft has added advert-type notifications to the File Explorer before, with the company showing similar promotions for its OneDrive as user Tero Alhonen points out. 

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Since this test was only spotted in a Windows 11 Insider build, Microsoft may ditch the idea due to the protests from users not wanting to see ads in File Explorer. As stated in the report, Microsoft may have scrapped the idea once the backlash kicked off, as Bleeping Computer couldn't find any adverts when looking for them.

While it may be a small test, it's clear that many Windows 11 users aren't keen on seeing another set of ads in an unlikely place. 

Darragh Murphy
Darragh Murphy

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.