In a nutshell: A recent discovery in an Insider Preview of Windows 10 has revealed that Microsoft is experimenting with ads in its WordPad app in a bid to encourage users to try out the web versions of its Office productivity apps.
The humble WordPad is one of the oldest applications to ship with Windows and remains a simple yet effective word processor for basic needs. Although its feature set is unlikely to grow in the future, Microsoft seems to be testing an update for the app that displays ads for the company's Office web apps.
According to Rafael Rivera, a Windows researcher, the company is experimenting with six variants of the ad, which appear below the toolbar, asking users to try out one of the free online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
BREAKSCLUSIVE: Microsoft WordPad is getting a new feature! An ad for Office web apps!— Rafael Rivera (@WithinRafael) January 20, 2020
Screenshot shows 6 experimental variants.
vso/tfs id 23834136
variants 1-6 pic.twitter.com/TdYOuKkLZc
It remains to be seen if (and when) Microsoft pushes this change as part of a Windows 10 update. As of now, the public reaction is divided, with some people seeing little harm done in Microsoft suggesting a free and better alternative to WordPad.
Others, however, consider it an invasive move from the company that's trying to convince users to switch products by pushing ads into free software. There's also a third category that's still trying to remember the last time they used WordPad.
Nevertheless, Rivera says that the change is "probably designed to increase some KPI, like monthly user engagement. Or new signups," giving Microsoft a better idea of its Windows 10 userbase that still relies on WordPad for their productivity needs.