Microsoft Is Putting Ads on the Mail App in Windows 10 (Update: Or Not)

Posted on November 16, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Outlook.com, Windows, Windows 10 with 50 Comments

Update: Microsoft’s head of communications claimed on Twitter that ads on the Mail app were “never intended” to be tested broadly and that the company is disabling the ads on the app. The claim here is interesting mainly because Microsoft has an entire support page dedicated to ads on Mail, and that wouldn’t even exist if Microsoft never intended to test the feature broadly. Either way, it’s being turned off, so we can all stop complaining now.

Original story follows.

Uh, yes. Microsoft is bringing ads to the Mail app in Windows 10. The company has been shipping Mail as the default email client in Windows 10, and it has improved quite a lot over the years.

The app obviously isn’t as good as Outlook’s mobile apps, or the Outlook desktop app. It is still a good alternative for those who don’t have to deal with hundreds of emails every week. The app could, however, get some serious backlash soon.

Microsoft is testing a new update for the Mail app with Windows Insiders which introduces ads within the app, as first reported by Italian blog Aggiornamenti Lumia. At this point in time, the app only shows personalised ads on top of your inbox. And the only way to get rid of the ad is to get an Office 365 subscription.

The ads will apparently appear for all users — even if you don’t use a Microsoft email service like Outlook and only have Gmail, Yahoo, G Suite, or other third-party accounts, you will still see the ads until you purchase an Office 365 subscription. And that, of course, is quite ridiculous. “The ads at the top of the message list come from Microsoft. You’ll see them whether you are using a Microsoft email account, like Outlook.com, or an account from another email service provider, like Google,” the app says, asking users to purchase Office 365 to get an ad-free experience.

“Consistent with consumer email apps and services like Outlook.com, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail, advertising allows us to provide, support, and improve some of our products. We’re always experimenting with new features and experiences. Currently, we have a pilot running in Brazil, Canada, Australia, and India to get user feedback on ads in Mail,” Microsoft said in a support page about the new ads in Mail for Windows 10. The company says it will only display ads in the “Other” inbox for those who have Focused Inboxed turned on, and those who have it off will see the ads on top of their regular inbox.

In Microsoft’s defence, although these ads are interest-based, they do not look at your emails to display ads based on data from your email. Plus, you can opt out of interest-based ads if you’d like.

Microsoft has previously received a ton of backlash for putting ads on Windows 10, and I imagine this wouldn’t be any different. If Microsoft does decide to go ahead with the idea of putting ads on the default email client in Windows, it will most certainly receive negative reviews and complaints from users who already pay for the OS.

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Comments (50)

50 responses to “Microsoft Is Putting Ads on the Mail App in Windows 10 (Update: Or Not)”

  1. Brad Sams

    I miss Newton so very badly.

  2. whistlerpro

    Obviously that's awful, but I don't get the point of the ads going away if you have Office 365? What does Mail have to do with Office 365? Would you even be expected to use Mail if you had Office 365?

  3. curtisspendlove

    Simple solution. Give me Windows 10 for free and I’m happy to deal with as many ads as you wish to toss in the built-in apps.


    But if I’m paying for a Windows license *and* you show me ads, I get grumpy.

  4. dontbe evil

    clickbait title

  5. gregsedwards

    Here's also something to consider, and Mehedi sort of alludes to it in the article. Notice the screenshot shows an ad being served atop a Mail app connected to a Hotmail (consumer Outlook.com) account. If you view a free email account on the web, you're likely going to see ads; this is no different for Hotmail/Outlook.com. If you have a premium account, either as a standalone paid service or as part of your Office 365 subscription, then you don't see ads on the web. And you won't see them in the Mail app, either. They're just extending this model into the app.

    Here's the thing: Yahoo and Google have premium ad-free email service offerings, too. Microsoft really has no way to know whether you're paying for a premium Yahoo or Gmail experience, so they have to assume you're OK with an ad-based experience. Or you're using the Mail app to try to dodge the ads on the web that pay for that free email account you're using.

    I'd argue that Microsoft is simply leveraging the insight they can derive from the relationship between their own platform and service. If you don't like it, then switch to the free app offered by your email provider. Or pay Microsoft for an ad-free premium email service and use their free app. Or uninstall the Mail app and stick with checking your free email account on the web, and put up with ads there.

  6. misterstuart

    Geez. How stupid can they be??? I mean, are folks really sitting around at Microsoft having conversations like this:


    BOB: Hey Dan, do you know what I've been thinking about lately?

    DAN: What's that, Bob?

    BOB: Putting ads in the Mail app!

    DAN: Wow, that's a GREAT idea! People love ads; How can we go wrong???!!!

    BOB: Ya know something Dan, you're looking pretty good in that new Xmas sweater.

    DAN: Oh you! Stop making me blush!

    BOB: Do you know what I'm thinking about now, Dan?

    DAN: That you wanna punish be because I've been very naughty!

    BOB: Get the paddles and beads...

  7. lvthunder

    So use Thunderbird instead.

  8. beatnixxx

    Well, that guarantees I'll never use this barely used app in the future. I honestly prefer to manage my personal mail via a browser in any case, and in an enterprise situation, you generally have the enterprise tools.


    Still I occasionally pull this up to see if it's gotten any better, etc. and meh. When this change occurs, I'll simply never open it again, but I concur with others in this list. If the OS is free, advertise away. If I'm paying for it, knock it the eff off.

  9. StevenLayton

    Granted, Microsoft needs to back away from this Ad path. But seriously, who even notices Ads anymore?

  10. dmaddogg

    And that will be the last day I use that app.....

  11. dcdevito

    I left Linux for a Mac in 2007, then switched to Windows in 2016 (first time using Windows since Win98). This is the kind of crap that will drive me back to Linux, and I really don't want to do that.

  12. Tony Barrett

    MS are slowly getting people used to the concept of having ads in most areas and apps in Windows 10. Even articles like this that talk about ads in the mail app, but with MS then rebuking the concept show they are actively looking at it in all areas. They will appear more and more going forward though, so expect it.

  13. ivarh

    I paid AUD$330 for my copy of windows 10 (using it in bootcamp/parallels desktop vm on my macbook pro). I did not pay for Microsoft to double-dip and push ads on me. If they start giving windows 10 away for free then I can accept ads. But for a expensive paid product is appalling.

  14. YouWereWarned

    So just as Facebook is getting spit-roasted by the press and congress over the evils of their ad-supported enterprise, Microsoft discovers...ADS. Always late to the party, and dressed inappropriately.

  15. jdawgnoonan

    The first ad I see in the Mail App will result in my never using the program again. I paid for this OS, it isn’t Google Freeware.


  16. jtyjyj

    Microsoft should just give Google a call and farm out all the ads and search in Windows to them. If Apple is getting $10b a year just to have Google.com as the default in iOS, imagine what MS could get putting Google.com as the default and serving up all the ads.


    Billions and billions.

    • locust infested orchard inc

      In reply to jtyjyj:

      Nice sarcastic comment, but sadly it is true.


      The question is, will Microsoft be willing to sell its soul to the satanistic Adoogle in exchange for $$$$$$$ ?


      Come on Satya Nadella, be prudent and honour your vast user base.

      • Winner

        In reply to locust infested orchard inc:

        You keep talking about Adoogle while your pet Microsoft tries to do exactly the same thing.

      • A_lurker

        In reply to locust infested orchard inc:

        There is a key difference, MS is trying to leverage Windows usage to create an ad market versus Google using its optional services to create an ad market. For most the difference is the OS vendor is ramming ads down your throat unavoidably. It is possible to avoid Google directly with alternative services that are not ad supported; usually a small monthly or annual fee is required.

  17. MarkH

    Kind of surprising anyone there can still walk, considering how many times they've shot themselves in the foot...

  18. pachi

    Sadly my Mac mini is arriving next week. I actually really like the w10 Mail app but Microsoft just made it harder and harder to continue to rely on their OS and products. :(

  19. oddfpv

    Hmm, strange when you have a subscription, most likely you will use outlook. So you can ditch the mail app, so whats the point off add-free.

  20. alejandro

    The Win10 mess has pushed me over the edge to Mac....

  21. waethorn

    This started a while back. I've seen it on numerous systems.

  22. JustinMSalvato

    Supposedly this is only when you're using Focused Inbox, but I don't know if that has been confirmed.

  23. fishnet37222

    Good thing I already have an Office 365 Home subscription.

  24. red.radar

    The slope is getting really slippy now

  25. RonH

    So, use focused inbox, and move everything there...

  26. Chris_Kez

    To be clear, Microsoft is testing this.

  27. navarac

    There's also a Microsoft News ad in the Weather App (19H1 build 18282). Annoying.