Interesting news from longtime Windows developer extraordinaire and sometime Thurrott.com contributor Raphael Rivera. He reports — and shows — various experimental versions of an upcoming WordPad implementation that includes in-app advertisements for the MS Office Suite and various components thereof (Word, Excel and PowerPoint). His tweet on the subject includes the graphic that appears at the intro of this story, and looks like this:
BREAKSCLUSIVE: Microsoft WordPad is getting a new feature! An ad for Office web apps!
Screenshot shows 6 experimental variants.
vso/tfs id 23834136
variants 1-6 pic.twitter.com/TdYOuKkLZc
— Rafael Rivera (@WithinRafael) January 20, 2020
Click on image to open original tweet.
What About Those Ads?
The ads themselves are pretty nondescript, small, and unassuming. They occupy a single line of text at the bottom of WordPad’s ribbon. They exhort users to try various elements of the MS Office suite online “for free.” In and of themselves, they don’t seem too objectionable nor do they interfere with user accessibility and productivity overmuch.
That said, this is part of a trend that has Microsoft using various techniques to put ads in front of Windows users’ eyeballs. If you search on “Microsoft advertising in Windows 10,” you’ll find any number of articles dated 2016 through 2019 on how to turn ads off in Windows 10. One recent, decent example of this genre is entitled Windows 10 ads: How to turn them off from everywhere. It deals with the Start Menu, Lock Screen, File Explorer, taskbar, and Action Center, all of which can show ads, but can also be tweaked to turn them off.
Will WordPad get another such tweak? We’ll have to wait and see if (a) the experiment makes its way into production code and (b) if the new version includes a control to turn off the ad bar shown in Rivera’s example. Only time will tell.
Is Advertising Just Part of the Digital Landscape?
Is there any stopping MS from including advertisements in its software? I’m starting to think the answer may be “No, not really.” But I’m OK with that as long as they provide tweaks (or third parties provide tools) to turn them off. I’m not especially interested in dealing with visual distractions when I’m using my computer, especially when I’m busy writing or researching and have lots of Windows open. As I’ve pondered this topic, I have to say that my continuing preference for Google search over Bing is most likely a preference for the lack of moving images on the default search page that Google (but not Bing) turns up for me. I’m a lot less bothered and distracted by Google’s still-simple and video-free search page than I am by Bing’s default, multi-layered, always active visuals that show up when I want to search for something.
That said, the new Edge version gives me controls over the opening page layout that includes a focused option (which I just chose). It eliminates the clutter and distraction completely. Maybe I should give Bing another chance.
I’ll be dipped. The “Focused” option in the new Edge Page Layout controls gives me exactly what I want.
I guess it’s our job as Windows explorers and teachers to figure out how to cut out the clutter for those who wish to do so. Call me a clutter-buster then, and look for more such tips from me right here at Win10.Guru. Cheers!
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.