Microsoft is boosting advertising in its mobile Outlook email client, with free users seeing more email-like ads at the top of their inboxes than ever before.

What’s happening? Microsoft has confirmed that it’s now injecting more ads into its Outlook email client for the iPhone and Android. Not only is it much harder for free users to avoid seeing ads, but it’s also not helpful that those things are designed to look like regular email messages!

Why care? People hate online ads. If you’re a free user, most of the ads in Outlook can be avoided by using the Focused Inbox feature. But as soon as you switch inbox mode, email-like ads will surface at the top of your inbox.

What to do? If you use Outlook regularly as a free user and you don’t want to see any more ads in your inbox, we’re afraid the only way to avoid advertising in Outlook is to pay for a Microsoft 365 subscription.

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Free users see much more Microsoft Outlook ads

Many free customers complained about pesky ads appearing at the top of every inbox mode in Outlook, including your regular inbox and the one labeled “Other”.

Not only that, but these annoying ads look nearly identical to regular emails, making it much more difficult to distinguish real messages from ads and spam. Worse, if you swipe to delete the ad, Microsoft will re-insert it to the top of the message list.

Microsoft has confirmed the change in a statement to The Verge:

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.

The focused inbox isn’t ad-free but serves fewer ads, for now.

What if I’m a free user who doesn’t like to use the Focused inbox feature at all? In that case, I would wind up seeing even more ads in my other inboxes. You get the message. Want to get rid of ads? Upgrade to a Microsoft 365 subscription!

What is Microsoft 365 and how much does it cost?

Microsoft 365 is a way to pay for your usage of the Office apps with a monthly or yearly subscription. Formerly known as Office 365, Microsoft 365 subscriptions are available for personal and business use.

A single subscription ($10/month or $100/year) lets you use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, One Note and Teams apps on your desktop computer, laptop, phone or tablet.

The subscription also includes one terabyte of OneDrive storage and—importantly—ensures you enjoy an ad-free experience inside your Outlook email and calendar.

Microsoft 365 works with iOS, iPadOS, macOS, Android and Windows. You can compare all Microsoft 365 plans and specific perks on the Microsoft website.

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