Microsoft is testing ads within Windows 11 File Explorer

Experimental banner ads have reportedly popped up within Windows Explorer for some PC users after Microsoft accidentally published the feature externally

Windows file explorer ads: Windows folder icon with sad face with default wallpaper backdrop

It’s hard to escape advertisements fighting for your attention on the internet, but an accidental blip suggests that even Windows 11’s file Explorer could use integrated ads in the future. Spotted by Twitter user Florian Beaubois, the ad appeared in the form of a call to action banner for Microsoft Editor, something the company says was pushed in error.

In a statement provided to The Verge, Microsoft’s senior program manager for Windows, Brandon LeBlanc, says the ad was “an experimental banner that was not intended to be published externally and was turned off,” While it’s clear that the test was never meant to involve external users, LeBlanc’s statement doesn’t rule out the possibility of integrated OS ads in the future.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Microsoft has used ads within Windows Explorer for its own services, as it previously rolled out a large OneDrive subscription banner back in 2017 (via The Verge). Windows 10 also isn’t a stranger to ads, as they can be found within its lock screen, start menu, and apps.

Ad banners and popups are a pain, but they could also make Windows more bloated. Naturally, this could have a knock-on effect when it comes to gaming PC performance, as background processes could make it hard to boost fps.

Admittedly, the Microsoft Editor ad in question isn’t the most intrusive banner ad out there, but its implementation could lay out the foundations for a greater advertising presence within Windows. This is something that could perhaps temp gaming enthusiasts to switch to the likes of SteamOS, especially since the Steam Deck’s arrival has created a platform for the Linux based operating system.