Windows 11: Microsoft tests again showing ads in file explorer

Windows[German]Once again a topic, which I have to address again: Microsoft has started displaying ads for various of its own products in Windows Explorer. This affects Windows 11 users who are testing the current Windows Insider builds. That's what various US media are reporting, though it's probably some kind of A/B test, so not every Insider gets to see these ads.


I 've seen the information in various US media – among others Bleeping Computer points out the issue in the following tweet as well as in this post. 

Windows 11: Explorer Ads

At the moment Microsoft is experimenting with the Explorer in Windows 11, so the file manager gets tabs – I didn't mention it, but the colleagues from The Verge published this article about it. What might be looks cool to some user, probable doesn't really have to come into the final version. This also applies to the approach of suddenly advertising Microsoft products in Windows Explorer with banner ads. This caught the eye of Florian, a Windows Insider MVP, who shared a screenshot on Twitter.

Windows 11: Ads in file explorer

In the header area, the information bar shown in the following screenshot has been displayed, which refers to a Microsoft Editor. The complete text reads "Write with confidence across documents, email, and the web with advanced writing suggestions from Microsoft Editor".


Windows 11: Ads in file explorer
Ads in Explorer, source: Twitter

It's clear that this is only a test with a small group of Windows insiders. And whether this feature will ever make it into the final version of Windows 11 is also up in the air. But the story shows two things:

  • Microsoft spends time and resources implementing such features in Explorer and elsewhere. And when the feature is built in, you can roll out any ads there – with many millions of systems, this would be a lucrative business.
  • The reactions of the community were also to be expected. The typical reaction: Explorer is probably the worst place imaginable to show any advertising, is the tenor.

The approach is not new, as there have already been ads for Chromium Edge in the Start menu (see Windows 10: Start menu promotion for Chromium Edge) or for completely different products, as I mentioned in the German article Windows 10: Zwangswerbung im Startmenü ist keine Werbung! (see also the following screenshot). 

(Source: WinBeta)

The colleagues from Bleeping Computer also point out in their post that there were ads for OneDrive in Explorer back in 2016 and reference the following tweet from Tero Alhonen. 

OneDrive ad in File Explorer

Bleeping Computer asked Microsoft about that ads and received the following explanation from Brandon LeBlanc, Windows Senior Product Manager at Microsoft: This was an experimental banner that was not intended to be released to the outside world and has been disabled.

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