Microsoft File Explorer Ads Go Down Badly

John Lister's picture

Microsoft has tested showing advertising in its File Explorer tool. It may be ads for Microsoft products only, though the hostile response could well dissuade the company from going further with the idea.

One user shared a screenshot of File Explorer which included a bar at the top of the window (just above the list of files) reading "Write with confidence across documents, email, and the web with advanced writing suggestions from Microsoft Editor." (Source:

It also had a "Learn More" link pointing to more details about Microsoft Editor. That's a free plug-in/extension tool for the Edge and Chrome browsers that can apply Word-style spelling and grammar checks to other tools such as writing a post for a web forum.

Another user saw a similar ad, this time promoting Microsoft installable templates for PowerPoint. So far it appears the ads have only appeared for a handful of users who are part of the Windows 11 testing program.

Publication Was Mistake

Microsoft is already trying to deflect some of the attention, telling The Verge that "This was an experimental banner that was not intended to be published externally and was turned off." (Source:

In such a test, Microsoft will have two goals. The first is to find out whether a feature is technically possible and doesn't cause any conflicts with other software or feature, a test it seems to have passed.

The second is to judge public mood and decide whether to proceed with testing or to ditch the idea, preferably at an early enough stage it can give the impression it was never serious about it anyway.

Users Unimpressed

Based on response so far, it seems many users would be livid if the tool was used to show paid advertising from third parties. While that's common on some services such as Gmail, the difference is that they are free services. While Windows 11 is a free upgrade, ultimately everyone using it will have paid for Windows at some point, either directly buying a copy or indirectly through the purchase price of a new PC.

Microsoft advertising its own products might be more tolerable, though the positioning in the File Explorer would be a step too far for many. It's one thing to show ads in "dead spaces" such as on a lock screen or an unused section of the desktop, and another to have them inside what's inherently a visual information tool.

What's Your Opinion?

Would you be happy to see ads for Microsoft products in File Explorer? Would it be acceptable if you could choose to switch them off? Does whether you paid for Windows 11 make any difference?

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imallett_8441's picture

Beware Microsoft! If you start putting any more adverts in Winows, you will drive more users to Linux!

I hate adverts on my computer and do my best to block them. The final step is to ditch Windows altogether.