Buying Microsoft Office 2021, and not the subscription-based Microsoft 365, is a conscious choice for many users. Some prefer to pay for a product once rather than having to pay for it every month.
Imagine the surprise of an Office 2021 customer being greeted with an ad for Microsoft 365 in Office 2021. Twitter user Lee Holmes was the first to experience the ad and he published a screenshot of it on Twitter.
The ad, which appeared as a single line in Word 2021, offered Holmes three months of Microsoft 365 Family at a discounted price.
Temporary offer Get 3 months of Microsoft 365 Family for only $$0.99
The double-$$ is not a typo; Microsoft’s ad uses it exactly that way. It seems that Microsoft is experimenting with different ads, probably to find out which converts best. According to Bleeping Computer, others saw the following ad in Office 2021:
For just $0.99, get 3 months of Microsoft 365 Family and share it with up to 5 people. It’s like getting six subscriptions in one. CONDITIONS APPLY
Attempts to have Office 2021 display ads on several test systems have failed. The campaign can be limited to certain regions or other statistics.
Holmes, who is Principal Security Architect at Microsoft, felt disappointed when he saw the ad in Office 2021. Aside from crossing a line by displaying ads in a commercial product, one must ask how successful this particular campaign can be.
The customer has already purchased Microsoft Office 2021, the latest permanent version of Office. A Microsoft 365 subscription also provides access to Office tools. The main benefits are that Office programs offered through a Microsoft 365 subscription are not limited to one device and OneDrive storage is increased to 1 Terabyte. A Microsoft 365 Family subscription provides these benefits to up to six people.
The use of advertisements is increasing
The promotional message in Office 2021 is the latest in an ever-growing series of ads in Microsoft products. Microsoft displayed ad in Explorer to some Windows Insider users earlier this year.
In 2021, Microsoft pushed an ad to Windows 11 Insider systems for Microsoft Teams that caused systems to crash.
In 2020, Microsoft added lists to Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel and Word to the Windows Start menu and installed programs list without any action by the system administrator or user. These were shortcuts to Office web applications.
In 2018, ads were displayed in the Mail client, which Microsoft later claimed were only experimental.
Ads for OneDrive were also displayed in Explorer and there may be ads when Windows users search for other browsers in the Start menu.
It seems that Microsoft executives have discovered a new way to promote other company products and services to customers, and usage is growing.