Microsoft is testing File Explorer ads in latest Windows 11 Insider build

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 14, 2022
Updated • Mar 16, 2022
Added Microsoft's comment on the issue.
Windows 11 News

Windows 11 users may soon see more ads in the system's default file browser File Explorer. The ads were spotted by Twitter user Florian (@flobo09) who published the following screenshot on the social messaging service.

windows 11 ad file explorer

The screenshot shows the upper part of a File Explorer window. Below the address field is an ad for Microsoft Editor, a spelling and grammar checker by Microsoft that is available for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.

Write with confidence across documents, emails, and the web with advanced writing suggestions from Microsoft Editor.

Update: Microsoft stated that the display was done in error and should not have happened.

It appears that Microsoft is using File Explorer to advertise some of its products. Another user replied stating that Microsoft was suggesting to "check out PowerPoint templates on the official website" in File Explorer.

The new attempt to cross-promote its products in Windows is not the first run at displaying ads in File Explorer. Back in 2017, Microsoft started to advertise its OneDrive service in File Explorer on Windows 10 devices.

file explorer ads

The Windows 10 ad in File Explorer advertised an Office 365 subscription that would give users 1 Terabyte of OneDrive storage space plus access to Office apps.

The advertisement was not the first to show up on Windows 10 devices. Users spotted ads in various locations, including the lockscreenthe start menuthe share menu, and the taskbar.

The ads that Microsoft shows to Windows Insiders in File Explorer on Windows 11 have little to do with File Explorer itself. Microsoft Editor is a browser extension and PowerPoint templates are only useful for use in PowerPoint, not in File Explorer.

Windows 11 and 10 systems show ads by default. Microsoft has different names for these, including "sync provider notifications" or "tips and suggestions".

Sync Provider notifications can be turned off in the following way on Windows 11:

  1. Open File Explorer..
  2. Select Menu > Three-Dots > Options at the top.
  3. Switch to the View menu when the Folder Options window opens.
  4. Scroll down until you find "show sync provider notifications".
  5. Uncheck that box.
  6. Click ok.

OnMSFT suggests that users can disable the new File Explorer ad system by turning off tips and suggestions in the Windows 11 Settings.

windows 11 disable file explorer ads

Here is how that is done:

  1. Select Start > Settings.
  2. Open System and then Notifications.
  3. Scroll all the way down on the page that opens and uncheck "Get tips and suggestions when I use Windows".

This should take care of the File Explorer ads.

The advertisement was spotted in recent Insider builds of Windows 11 only; these are development builds of Windows that are used for testing. It is possible that the ads won't make it into stable versions of Windows, but it is too early to tell.

Another option that users may have is to use a different file manager for Windows. We reviewed a few recently, including NexusFile, Sigma File Manager, and Imperium.

Now You: what is your take on this? (via Deskmodder)

Microsoft is testing File Explorer ads in latest Windows 11 Insider build
Article Name
Microsoft is testing File Explorer ads in latest Windows 11 Insider build
Windows 11 users may soon see more ads in the system's default file browser File Explorer. The ads were spotted by Twitter user Florian (@flobo09) who published the following screenshot on the social messaging service.
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  1. Nestor Albuquerque said on March 19, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks again, Martin.
    My PoV is that ads would be ok if Windows would be free, which it so definitely is not…
    On the other hand, software makers should be granted their earnings, as life itself is not cost-free (at least for me it has never been…).
    So, they should choose between free Windows or ads only for those who did not prove had acquired a license. Registered users should have the option to get ads or not (believe me, some would…go figure…).

  2. Ray said on March 16, 2022 at 12:03 am

    Oh, hellllll no!

  3. Tom Hawack said on March 15, 2022 at 9:23 pm

    Like Ryanair, ads everywhere even in the cabin.

  4. chesscanoe said on March 15, 2022 at 8:10 pm
  5. Bobo said on March 15, 2022 at 7:50 pm

    Someone is using WinSnap…

  6. Nothing To Lose said on March 15, 2022 at 8:11 am

    What we need is some supergeek that can alter the .iso in such a way that we never agree to the Microsoft terms and conditions but are still able to install the OS. Then we’ll drag your ass to court Nadella. We don’t care if we’ll lose because the years spent in court will DRAIN you, and you will die. DIE I SAY.

  7. Doom Awaits said on March 15, 2022 at 7:47 am

    We’re moving towards a scenario where the best way to install windows is to use something like NTlite and completely remove every default program and later on adding good and usable programs that do what they are supposed to do, nothing more. Oh wait, there is that linux thing.. what’s all THAT about..? If you’re not a gamer or don’t use photoshop, linux is what you should be looking at, instead of this s**tshow.
    Seriously Microsoft, die.

  8. sexy said on March 15, 2022 at 6:39 am

    I don’t know how you Windows users continue to deal with all of the problems when it comes to Windows boxes.

    Those who speak against Linux being an alternative are paid shills. No one in their right mind defends this mafia of a company. I say mafia because that’s what it is. A convicted monopoly and a mafia rolled into one big juicy One Microsoft Way burrito. Enjoy the farts.

    1. Corky said on March 15, 2022 at 11:22 am

      Simple, because some software simply isn’t available on Linux. Don’t get me wrong i think Linux has come a long way in the last 20 odd years but the fact is there’s a chicken and egg situation in that companies don’t develop software for it because there’s not many users and there’s not many users because there’s a lack of software that makes things simple for people.

      Take things like motherboard vendors software, IDK of a single motherboard company that supports Linux, then there’s things like software for ‘gaming’ mouse or keyboards. And it doesn’t stop there, capture cards, onboard sound chips, even Nvidia graphic cards can be problematic.

      I’d love for Linux to be as user friendly as Windows but there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s simply not and unless the Linux community accept that most people don’t use computers how developers do and start to make things more user friendly (i.e not having to resort to terminal commands and/or editing files) it’s never going to see widespread adoption.

      If you want to understand how normal/semi tech literate users get on with Linux i suggest watching LTT’s series of videos….

      1. Anonymous said on March 15, 2022 at 5:06 pm

        its not because there’s not many user, its because they want to stay anonymous to the point that they wont be count as 1 of many in the market share.

        company certainly aint gonna rely on downloads number not to mention there ton of distro where every little change might bring up ton of unnecessary issue.

        also majority linux user prefer not to use any closed-source software at all even if there no open-source alternative. tbh i coulnt give a crap about closed-source or open-source, both seem to have pro & cons. even worse, some even refuse to use some open0source sofware with certain license because its not a “true open-source” according to them simply because they cant fork or something.

        obviously if company want to sell software, open-source is a huge cons here.

      2. Corky said on March 15, 2022 at 7:16 pm

        No, Linux users really do makeup a tiny percentage of users…
        We shipped Planetary Annihilation on Win, Mac, and Linux. Linux uses we’re a big vocal part of the Kickstarter and forums.

        In the end they accounted for 20% of auto reported crashes and support tickets (most gfx driver related).

        Making excuses for Linux is part of the problem, if you truly want Linux to be a viable alternative to Windows (and who doesn’t) these problems, issues, lack of usability in certain situations need to be addressed not brushed under the carpet.

      3. Corky said on March 16, 2022 at 12:13 am

        That middle sentence was supposed to read…

        In the end they accounted for less than 0.1% of sales but more than 20% of auto reported crashes and support tickets (most gfx driver related).

        Does ghacks do something odd with a less than sign?

  9. Anonymous said on March 15, 2022 at 5:56 am

    hahaha cant believe this stuff cost $100 for 1 license.

  10. MdN said on March 15, 2022 at 2:55 am

    At least you guys are finally getting tabs, right?

    1. beemeup5 said on March 15, 2022 at 4:56 am

      INB4 Micro$oft auto loads tabs with ads and when you go to close it, it asks “Are you sure you want to close?” and after you close it, it says “Got it! We’ve recorded your preferences so future ads will be more personalized!”. Oh joy!

  11. yanta said on March 15, 2022 at 1:11 am

    As if we needed yet another reason to avoid Winblows 11.

  12. Anonymous said on March 15, 2022 at 12:42 am

    Terrible adware OS. Glad I still use Windows 7.

  13. Dumbledalf said on March 14, 2022 at 11:57 pm

    Awesome, I love ads, when I install uBlock Origin, the first thing I do is disable it so I can bask in the glorious ads.

  14. pHROZEN gHOST said on March 14, 2022 at 11:56 pm

    I am so glad that, due to hardware limitations dictated by MicroShaft, I will not be installing Windows 11 on this PC or the other two that I own.

    Instead, I will be migrating to Linux on all 3.

    Buh bye MicroShaft.

    1. lophis said on March 15, 2022 at 6:20 am

      I am curious what generation processors are you using? Are they all I7? I can imagine a person keeping around older hardware if they were I7 or Xeons.

  15. Anonymous said on March 14, 2022 at 10:07 pm

    The switch will no doubt appear in somebody’s W11-tamer utility. Personally, better to pay for a version that leaves my data alone, contains no advertising and offers unnecessary rubbish as extras rather than include them as features.

  16. John said on March 14, 2022 at 8:20 pm

    As long as it can be turned off, I can deal with it, but I am worried that the day will come where the ads no longer can be turned off, at least not on consumer editions of Windows Home.

    I’ll admit, I scrolled this article really quickly looking to see if there was an off switch, because I wasn’t sure there would be. Fortunately, there is.

    Linux provides an important safety valve to this sort of thing. If desktop Linux disappeared, I would really be worried that there would be no place to jump if Microsoft made ads mandatory or crossed some other line that wasn’t easy to disable.

    Windows 10 already does have something in settings with a “rewards sign-in” logo and a “Web browsing restore” (The latter wouldn’t be an ad if it’s function wasn’t to make Edge your default browser. Guess what it’s function is?) that can’t be turned off. There’s also a little “Windows Sonic for Headphones” ad option a few layers deep in the audio settings. Half the the time I wonder if my tacit acceptance of that is like a frog being boiled in water that gradually increases in temperature, but the other half of the time I realize that it’s three little things I rarely see and that I’ve managed to turn everything else off, so it’s not really worth switching to an OS I’ve had problems in the past with (Or is it?).

  17. Corky said on March 14, 2022 at 8:02 pm

    I still find it shocking that people actually defend Microsoft or try to excuse such behaviour by telling people it’s not that bad because it can be turned off. Sure you can normally disable such things, either easily or through some protracted method, but you shouldn’t need to.

    Apart from the fact that the majority of users just accept defaults you shouldn’t need to spend hours uninstalling, turning off, disabling, removing, blocking things just so you can use the hardware you own. Before anyone says it you can’t simply use Linux, OSX, or some other OS for the simple fact that some software only runs on Windows.

    The sooner Microsoft get pulled in front of the courts for predatory behaviour or some such the better.

    1. KJ said on March 17, 2022 at 6:47 am

      It”s just some little boys – microsoft fanbois who love microsoft because gamepass is cheap. They are not many, they are just loud because their whole world is about games. That’s why they live for, to play games.

  18. Nicholas said on March 14, 2022 at 7:45 pm

    As long as Windows doesn’t have a good alternative, Microsoft can get away with this crap.

    Linux is a nice try, but for most cases it’s not quite good enough. MacOS is also limited in its own way.
    So I’m sorry, but we’ll probably have to deal with this for quite some time.

  19. Paul(us) said on March 14, 2022 at 7:16 pm

    This is where Martin already in the year 2017 warned us for.
    I think it’s something I have not paid for and do not want to be added to the o.s.
    This is because if there is anything disturbing about your work rhythm it is ads

    Is there next to the standard-setting way a register, firewall, or any other way this can be blocked?
    I ask this because there will be quite a large change that the standard-setting way will get lost in the near future.

  20. Anonymous said on March 14, 2022 at 6:59 pm

    yeah that’s a Tip/Suggestion, so your title is a little sensationalist when that setting pretty much is exactly what that little message is doing, give you a suggestion about another Microsoft service even if it is not related to File Explorer.

    That’s why turning that off which takes half a second can be done.

    1. matthiew said on March 15, 2022 at 6:29 am

      Microsoft are the one’s misusing terminology here, not Ghacks. A tip is for features in the product, not external services. This is an ad.

  21. ScamOS11 said on March 14, 2022 at 6:28 pm

    Every new feature is a dark pattern. There is really nothing in this scam OS thats useful or worth the downgrade. It only causes more headaches. I suggest using Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019 all the way till 2029. Hopefully by then these idiots currently ruining Windows are finally fired.

  22. John G. said on March 14, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    Please, have a look at the picture above to see the amazingly good W10’s high productivity ribbon! By the way easily available at W11 with Valinet’s Explorer Patcher, imho the best useful third party software ever. Here waiting for the upcoming tabs. Thanks for the article! :]

    1. TelV said on March 16, 2022 at 4:05 pm

      You can turn the same ribbon on and off in Windows 8.1 simply by hitting Ctrl + F1

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