Tech Tuesday: Why students might see advertisements on their Windows 10 computers
Users of the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system may have noticed some advertising content on their File Explorer, and it is expected that these ads will soon roll out to general users of the world’s third-most-popular OS.
While Microsoft has provided informational tips for its various services, notably OneDrive and the Edge Web Browser, in pop-ups on its platform before, the new versions specifically advertise Microsoft Office 365 for $6.99 per month.
File Explorer is a critical component in Windows — like the MacOS Finder, the program allows users to locate and organize any documents, media, programs, shortcuts or other information on their computer.
File Explorer is traditionally thought of as being an offline component for Windows. Users do not need to be connected to the internet to use it, and its function is limited to files stored on the computer.
Before getting into the how and why, it is important to note that Windows is only advertising a cloud storage service. It is not mandatory or critical to running a computer and does not need to be treated as a vital update.
How is Windows putting ads into File Explorer?
Windows has always retained the ability to send pop-ups or notifications to users. Between 2015 and 2016, the company pushed users of older operating systems to upgrade to Windows 10.
Many users were forcibly upgraded through a misleading pop-up or when their computer allowed a recommended update to change their operating system to 10.
The ads for OneDrive are expected to roll out to all Windows 10 users with the Creators Update, which Microsoft is expected to release sometime in 2017.
Can Windows put ads into their operating system?
Users have argued that because they have purchased the license to Windows 10, they should be free of ads.
Others, like The Verge’s Jacob Kastrenakes, point out that Microsoft is using its ability to push updates to Windows to advertise products in a place where no competitor can.
Several competitors of OneDrive exist, but none of them can advertise on a Windows operating system.
Windows 10 has already featured a host of services aimed at earning Microsoft more money, ranging from targeted ads to data collection on what users do with their computers.
While this appears to be the first time Windows is displaying ads on a file browser, Microsoft has previously promoted its products in the operating system.
“Microsoft has been going down this path for a while. It already puts ads in some cases on the Windows 10 lock screen and in the start menu and has popped up ads from the taskbar, too,” Kastrenakes said. “Back when Windows 8 was a thing, Microsoft placed ads inside some of its own apps.”
According to The Verge, a Microsoft spokesperson referred to the ad as a tip, and that users can opt out of seeing them.
How do I disable ads?
Technology writer Paul Thurrott created a guide explaining how to disable ads in Windows 10 after they were first publicized.
Unchecking one option — “show sync provider notifications” — disables the ads, even for users who do not have the new update yet. In order to get to that page, Thurrott says to go to the File Explorer’s folder options window.
“Open File Explorer and then navigate to View > Options > Change folder and search options,” he said in a blog post. “In the Folder Options window that appears, navigate to the View tab … In the Advanced Settings list, scroll down until you see the option titled ‘Show sync provider notifications.’”
Disabling these notifications should prevent Windows from showing students, or other Windows 10 users, from seeing ads on their machine.