Do you use the default Mail client on your PC, the one that comes with Windows 10, to read your email? How would you feel if Microsoft decided to throw in a few ads right at the top of your inbox?
These are not rhetorical questions – as Windows news site Lumia updates Noticed today, Microsoft is already testing that exact idea in a number of countries around the world. According to Microsoft's FAQ, what we're seeing is a pilot program, an experiment, a test that will theoretically help the company decide if it should actually roll out the feature for real.
But it's pretty unusual for a simple A / B test to have such a well-thought out plan for getting your dollars: if you want to opt out, Microsoft says it'll cost you the typical $ 7 a month ($ 70 a year) for an Office 365 Personal subscription.
Let's take Microsoft at its word that this is just a pilot program, though, one that could vanish as quickly as it came, as my colleague Tom Warren does below. If so, now is it your chance to give Microsoft some valuable feedback – maybe how do you not want ads in a program that you (presumably) already bought and paid for?
There are reports Microsoft is adding ads to the Windows 10 Mail app. Before everyone freaks out, this is just in A / B testing and does not 100% mean it's coming at all
– Tom Warren (@tomwarren) November 16, 2018
(Personally, I got Windows 10 for free when I upgraded from Windows 7 – but generally, when you buy or build a new Windows PC, part of the cost goes to a copy of Windows.)
On the plus side, Microsoft says it will not read the content of your email or calendar when it's targeting you with these ads, unlike Yahoo and AOL. (Google stopped scanning the content of email for ads targeting in 2017.) But Microsoft Will try to target the ads.
And it's not the only user-unfriendly land grab we've seen Microsoft test out recently. Microsoft aborted a short-sighted attempt to scare people away from Google's Chrome web browser in September, and tried to shuffle Mail users to its Microsoft Edge browser whenever they clicked on a link, back in March.
Based on a couple reports from Twitter users, Microsoft may have been testing these ads for months now – these two are from July:
– Michael Bowerman (@Mikey_PB) July 22, 2018
Really like Windows Mail, but the last few days, ads have started popping up at the top of my inboxes so that's really pissed me off.
– Nick Zuccarelli (@nick_zuccarelli) July 25, 2018
Microsoft did not immediately reply to a request for comment.