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.
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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.