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Seeing more ads in your Outlook app? You’re not alone

There’s no escape from ads anywhere on the internet, even when you’re scrolling through your inbox. And now Microsoft is putting more ads into the Outlook app on Android and iOS.

Per a report from The Verge, Microsoft has been increasing the number of ads that appear in users’ Outlook inboxes over the last few months, especially if they’re using Outlook for free. The company said the only way that free users can avoid seeing those ads is to enable the Focused inbox, a single-inbox feature that gives two tabs: “Focused” for your important mail (such as work email) and “Other” for the rest of it, including ads.

Microsoft Outlook app landing page.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“For free users of Outlook, ads are shown in their inbox and they can choose to enable the ‘Focused inbox’ feature if they would like to see ads only in the ‘Other’ inbox,” Microsoft spokesperson Caitlin Roulston said in a statement.

The only caveat is that users are going to see ads regardless of whether they’re using the Focused inbox feature or not. The ads will be seen at the top of the inbox, and they will take on the appearance of real emails in the same manner Microsoft and Google show ads on browser versions of Outlook and Gmail, respectively. Even if the ads only show up in the “Other” tab, they’re still going to be extremely difficult to avoid.

Outlook users took to social media to complain about ads appearing in their inboxes over the past week. Some of them recommended people to use other email services instead of Outlook, while others expressed disappointment in Microsoft for going down Google’s route and implementing ads as part of Outlook’s user interface.

Hey @MicrosoftHelps , the decision to put ads that look like mail in the @Outlook mobile app is utter garbage.

Tricking people into clicking ads is such shit UX design. I'm checking email, not trying to download drivers in 2005.

— Andrew Hendry (@aahendry) August 16, 2022

Outlook adding more ads is exactly why you should instead be using @SparkMailApp instead tbh. No ads and it’s an incredibly good smart inbox that serves me way better than Gmail or Outlook ever did

— Autumn Rhapsody 🐚🦭 | VTUBER (@RhapsodyAutumn) August 22, 2022

The iOS @Outlook app shows me ads that look like emails now, get the fuck outta here @Microsoft pic.twitter.com/o6dSIY85Yt

— Nick Smith (@yonicksmith) August 16, 2022

Google implemented ads into Gmail in 2012, but they only appear in the Promotions tab, which makes sense since people use that to check on sales from their favorite stores. Outlook has ads in the Other tab, which is home to emails other than ones with sales and promotions. If you can’t stand the increasing ads, that leaves you with no choice but to either subscribe to Microsoft 365, which costs $7 a month or $70 a year (if you subscribe to the Personal package), or delete Outlook altogether.

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