If you’re a person even remotely annoyed by the pervasive presence of ads in virtually every digital space, it’s probably safe to assume you definitely don’t want them in your email. Microsoft appears to have only just realised this.
The company seemingly backtracked on rolling out an A/B test for banners in its Windows 10 Mail client following reports of ad appearances this week for some of its users, according to the Verge.
Responding to a tweet about the ads by the Verge’s Tom Warren, Microsoft communications head Frank Shaw said that their appearance in Mail “was an experimental feature that was never intended to be tested broadly and it is being turned off.”
— Aggiornamenti Lumia (@ALumia_Italia) November 16, 2018
A Microsoft blog about the rollout linked to by the Verge is now dead, though an archived version confirms that the page previously directed to an FAQ page about ads in Mail for Windows 10. As the Verge notes, this is curious given the response Shaw offered on Twitter about it being an “experimental feature.”
The page said the pilot program was being conducted in Brazil, Canada, Australia, and India on Windows Home and Windows Pro. It also said that ads would appear in non-work email accounts like Outlook.com, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail, but not in the non-work accounts of users with an Office 365 subscription (which, as it turns out, will run you $US7 ($10) per month).
Microsoft said that ads were targeted by default but that users could opt out in their privacy settings. The page also noted that Microsoft wouldn’t scan users’ emails, a practice that’s been employed by the likes of Gmail and Yahoo.
The timeline of this rollout isn’t clear, but the Verge pointed to a couple of examples of people tweeting about ads in Windows Mail as far back as July. Either way, in light of the fact that people already hate this feature, it’s better for everyone that it’s being turned off — at least for now.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft about the ad rollout and will update this post if we hear back.