Microsoft on File Explorer Ads: Just Kidding!

Posted on March 15, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 11 with 28 Comments

Mockup: Paul Thurrott

Microsoft now says that the recent addition of an advertisement in a Windows 11 Insider Preview build was unintentional.

“This was an experimental banner that was not intended to be published externally and was turned off,” Microsoft told The Verge.

This doesn’t end the controversy, of course: that it was not intended for the public doesn’t mean that Microsoft won’t do such a thing again in the future. And it has, of course, done such a thing in the past.

In 2018, Microsoft had a similar episode in which it pretended that Bing ads were just a test. In 2017, Microsoft was caught adding advertisements to File Explorer for the first time. And Microsoft has a rich history of cheapening Windows with advertisements, dating back to my original slippery slope editorial from the Windows 8 days. They’ve even caused system instabilities.

They’ll figure it out one day. If they don’t, we’ll all be using Macs, Chromebooks, and Linux PCs.

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Comments (28)

28 responses to “Microsoft on File Explorer Ads: Just Kidding!”

  1. cnic

    Ummm…. Actually I do have a Mac that I use … more and more often.

    • longhorn

      It was revealed in late 2020 (to the public) that if you launch an app in macOS while you are connected to the Internet, then Apple will be notified.

      "It turns out one of the alternatives, switching to Apple’s macOS, may simply be moving from the frying pan into the fire.

      A recent incident where Apple’s OCSP (Online Certificate Status Protocol) was overwhelmed revealed to even casual users that Apple knows exactly which apps are running on your macOS laptop. During the partial outage, apps were very slow to launch or refused to launch at all, as the OS struggled to check the certificate of the apps against Apple’s revocation list."

      • Donte

        Yes this is GateKeeper.

        Apps are signed and MacOS checks to see if the signing cert is still valid when you start up an app. It is a security feature. They can shut down bad apps or never let them start. This good and bad.

        There was an issue about a year ago and any signed app would not start. The outage lasted about 2 hours.

        It also slows down the startup of apps. Launching word on my 16inch MacBook M Pro is slower than on my older Lenovo T580.

        You kind of feel like you don’t own the Mac really. You can still disable Gatekeeper but it gets harder, now needing the terminal plus the GUI. It would not surprise me if they take that ability away at some point.

      • retcable

        The fact that Apple might know you are connected to and using the internet and which apps are installed and/or running on your computer is FAR from having ads placed in the Finder or on your desktop. I am quite sure that Microsoft can determine if your computer is connected to the internet since that very fact determines whether or not your computer is able to check for updates in the background.

        Apple also provides some settings that might prevent some reporting of usage and ad-related data back to both Apple and app developers. Where are those settings in Windows?

      • andrew b.

        I'm also not sold on the idea that as Apple moves into building up their services, they won't do exactly this same thing. This is the company that killed the headphone jack to sell more bluetooth earbuds, after all.

        • Stabitha.Christie

          "This is the company that killed the headphone jack to sell more bluetooth earbuds, after all."

          This is truly one of the dumber takes on the headphone jack removal.

          • thretosix

            Add me to your list of dumber people then. I completely agree that it was removed to promotes sales of their new product. I understand the other reasons for removing it. I just also feel this was the main reason. This has been Apple's thing forever, creating proprietary accessories.

            • SvenJ

              You do realize BT headphone/earphones existed before Apple sold them, and worked with Apple products right? Others still do BTW. Apple also provided a lightning to 2.5mm adapter for a couple of iterations, as well as third party lightning headphones existing. Maybe they didn't think of using some proprietary RF technology to ensure only their headphones would work. Or maybe their given reasons for jack removal were genuine.

  2. cliffordsf

    Maybe they feel that with the constant barrage of advertisements on the net (and yes, I had to close an ad window or two to get here) you won't even notice the ones they place. Or maybe, since Windows upgrades are offered free, they feel a need to recoup some of the dev costs. I don't want the ads any more than the rest of you, but let's face it, free isn't free. I kick myself for not paying for this site every time I come here and wade through the ads. Maybe this month...

    • Donte

      Not that I want ads in Windows but any evidence of ads in Windows has been promotion of their products.

      It is not like they were pushing Macafee ads or Spotify. Of course it is a slippery slope.

  3. veermaharaj

    I just need Linux mint to run Adobe cs6 and some reasonably recent version of ms office (2010 or newer) and I could leave windows forever and rely on a console for my gaming needs.

  4. trparky

    This situation has confirmed it; when my computer dies, I'm going to the Mac. I already have an iPhone, I have plans to buy an iPad, and I have an iPad. All I need is a Mac Mini and that's that.

  5. gardner

    I can just see it, we accidentally created a project to ad ads to explorer, accidentally assigned a developer and testing resource, accidentally assigned UX/UI resources, accidentally created a sales group to sell it, and accidentally shipped the feature, and then accidentally turned the feature on.

  6. justme

    Please forgive my rampant cynicism - but I do not for a second believe this was accidental. Not fully baked, perhaps. Not fully integrated, perhaps. But accidental? No. You dont accidentally write code.

    • jmeiii75

      Was going to be my exact response as well. I had an old boss mention that he was running a "scream test." When I asked what he meant, he said "I'm going to try something and see if anyone screams." I'm thinking this failed the "scream test."

  7. olavgm

    Yes, because code is written unintentionally.

    • johnnych

      "lol, don't worry everyone, we were just kidding, it was just a joke ok!"

      I don't use windows personally but when you read some of the comments, it's crazy what you have to do now just to sign into it and use it locally :/

      "I recently got a new laptop with Windows on it, and my god, setup was like signing up for a social media account. I had to opt out of so many privacy settings. It's ridiculous. I installed Linux on it."

  8. hrlngrv

    Please believe us: we're not venal, we're just incompetent.

    I, for one, am willing to give MSFT the benefit of the doubt and accept their admission of incompetence.

  9. christianwilson

    My son wanted a Chromebook like the ones he uses at school so I bought him one. Despite being built by the "Ad Company", Chrome OS is not annoying like Windows has become.

  10. proftheory

    So this is why they have been giving Windows away for free!

    Now what subscription price per year will you be willing to pay?

  11. jcbeckman

    Sure, they developed that code to sell stuff to employees only. I guess they think their customers are brain-dead.

  12. Brent Morris

    Typical article - a nothing burger.

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