Updated 14/03 to include response from Microsoft
Microsoft has, in the days since this story was first published, responded to the furor surrounding its pop up ads, issuing a statement that said:
“The new tips notifications within the File Explorer in Windows 10 were designed to help Windows 10 customers by providing quick, easy information to enhance the experience relative to storage and cloud file management. That said, with Windows 10 customers can easily opt out of receiving these notifications if they choose.”
I think it's just a fact that we'll have to deal with ads in our operating systems, because Microsoft certainly isn't showing any signs of slowing down with it. After persistently telling Windows 8 users to upgrade to Windows 10 and spamming Google Chrome users with a pop up ad for its Personal Shopping Assistant (PSA) extension, users are now reporting that they are finding adverts within File Explorer. File Explorer, the sacred place where we keep all of our treasued saved documents. Is nothing sacred anymore?
The ads themselves are, as reported by Extreme Tech, pointing users towards Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage service and highlight all the space you can get when when you pay out for an Office 365 subscription. Every Windows user gets 5GB of space for free, but Microsoft is pushing the idea that you can get up to a whopping 1TB if you subscribe.
The ad apparently is appearing as a banner at the top of File explorer to remind you that OneDrive and Office 365 could be yours for as little as $6.99 per month. If you're not interested, or just insulted by the presence of this pop-up, you can dismiss the ad but it'll creep up on you later.
This isn't exactly new news however. Users started reporting seeing these ads a few months ago, but they've grown considerably since, reaching a high rate of reports over the past week.
The ad is particularly troubling to some, as it is nowhere near as subtle as those mentioned earlier or even those which appear on the Windows lock screen. In addition it's not controlled by the same option as other Windows 10 ads. To disable this pop-up, you have to go to View > Options in File Explorer, scroll down and turn off the option for “Show sync provider notifications”. The tradeoff is that you won't see any synch provider notifications, but as you're not using OneDrive you probably won't be missing much.
This is only the latest chapter in Microsoft's ongoing relationship with ads in its operating system and it likely won't be the last we hear of it.