Microsoft News Roundup: Ads in File Explorer, HoloLens struggles, and more

Hololens Us Army 2021 Microsoft Press
Hololens Us Army 2021 Microsoft Press (Image credit: Microsoft)

We report on a broad range of news related to Microsoft and Windows. It's easy to miss a few stories, especially if you also try to keep up on general tech news. Each Friday, we recap the biggest items of the week covered at Windows Central.

This week included the controversial appearance of an ad (or promo, if you prefer) within the File Explorer and poor expectations for the version of HoloLens that will soon enter testing with the U.S. Army. We also saw the announcement of a new Smart Camera for the Surface Hub 2, a popular Reddit app being optimized for Surface Duo, and news about Intel's first Arc GPU.

Microsoft struggles with HoloLens for U.S. Army

Microsoft's HoloLens teams have reportedly run into issues in recent times. The HoloLens 3 was canceled and the entire division appears to have questions regarding its future. This week, a report indicated that Microsoft's augmented reality headset for the U.S. Army isn't expected to meet expectations. Its name is IVAS.

Sources close to the project expressed fear that the U.S. Army may ditch its $22 billion deal with Microsoft for AR headsets altogether. Negative feedback is expected for the current IVAS units, which are due for field testing in May.

New Surface Hub 2S Smart Camera

Hybridmeeting

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft announced a new Smart Camera for the Surface Hub 2S this week. The camera was designed for the hybrid work experience. According to Microsoft, it is the first webcam powered by artificial intelligence. It features a 12MP 136-degree sensor that can capture people as close as 0.4 meters away or as far as 8 meters.

The Smart Camera costs $800. That is more than the best webcams that people are used to for consumer usage, but it is actually cheaper than some competing products in the enterprise space. Logitech has a similar camera that costs $1,000. The camera is also included with the purchase of a $22,000 Surface Hub 2 after May 31, 2022.

Ads appear in Windows 11 File Explorer

File Explorer Tabs Hero Fixed

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Controversy brewed this week when some Windows Insiders ran into ads in the File Explorer. There was some debate on if the ads were indeed ads, with some arguing that they were just "self-promotion." Regardless of what people chose to call the banner in question, its existence in File Explorer caused frustration for many.

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Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc later explained that the ads in File Explorer were not meant to be externally published. Notably, he did not promise that there would never be ads in the File Explorer. Instead, he said that this specific implementation was not meant to be tested publicly.

Sync Reddit app optimized for Surface Duo

Sync For Reddit Surface Duo

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Sync, a popular Reddit client on Android, was optimized for the Surface Duo this week. The app now takes advantage of both screens of the device, allowing Redditors to browse through topics on one screen while reading comments on the other. The new functionality is in the Dev release of Sync, which costs just a penny under $5.

First Intel Arc GPU launching this month

Raja Koduri Intel

Source: Intel Corporation (Image credit: Source: Intel Corporation)

Intel shared a few more details about its first Arc GPU this week. The company will hold an event for its new GPU family on March 30, 2022. On that same day, the Intel Arc A370M will launch. The first Arc GPU will deliver up to double the performance of integrated graphics, according to Intel.

Intel Vice President and General Manager Lisa Pearce explained that the first Arc GPUs will be on mobile PCs, such as laptops. More powerful devices will have Arc graphics in the future.

Samsung giving free monitors with Galaxy Book2 orders

Galaxy Book2 Family

Source: Samsung (Image credit: Source: Samsung)

Preorders for the new Samsung Galaxy Book2 lineup are live. You now can order the Galaxy Book 2 Pro 360, Book2 Pro, or Book2 360. If you preorder either of the pro models, you'll also receive a 32-inch Odyssey Gaming Curved monitor, which is a value of $329.

The new Galaxy Book laptops have similar names but varying specs. To make sure you order the right one, check out our breakdown of the new Galaxy Book2 devices from the end of last month.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

7 Comments
  • If Microsoft adds Ads into Windows 11 - which is a paid product then they will have a massive backlash on their hands.
  • I'm here to tell you they won't have a major backlash, as most people don't seem to care. People have promos on their phones, TVs, Alexa, etc. It's just normal these days. Also, to be clear, it's a small banner that promos Microsoft Editor when you are in the Documents folder. It's not like a Geico ad flashing in File Explorer. Plus, MS already does things like suggest To Do to install, pinning apps to your Start, trying out Office, using Defender, OneDrive, recommending Edge, etc. Oh, the "internet" will be mad, for sure. But when isn't there a daily outrage on social media these days from people who think they represent the masses?
  • 💯 agrees. it looked like I was reading my own thoughts.
  • “Oh, the "internet" will be mad, for sure. But when isn't there a daily outrage on social media these days from people who think they represent the masses?” Well stated. 🤣
  • You are right that the "internet" will get mad and there will be some outrage. And maybe you are right that there won't be "major" backlash. But there will be a small group of people who will decide it's time to start looking at third party file managers, whereas right now there isn't anybody looking at third party file managers, at least in the Windows ecosystem. And that small group of people may include the heads of large IT departments, which are the last people they want to alienate. So, I don't think it would be smart of Microsoft to open up that can of worms unless they want more third-party file managers or simply don't care. Because small groups of people become larger groups of people over time, which is how Microsoft went from near total domination in the web browser wars to being thrilled nowadays that they have a chance at being third best. And it's also why they've had to come up with free web versions of Office to combat Google Workspace and OpenOffice and its offshoots. You don't want to give anyone, even a small number of people, a reason to consider migrating. I know ads weren't the cause of those migrations but consider the downfall of Internet Explorer. IE had flaky security, it was too slow, and it didn't render properly according to open specs. But what precipitated all of that? Ads. Ads through Flash, ads through popups using javascript, and ads through gif (or other animated) banners. Ads were the primary driver that blew open those security holes. But with a web browser that was inevitable, you are at the mercy of the website whose content you are trying to get. Introducing ads into apps which in theory should only affect your PC and things within your private network (in other words, things you are supposed to be in control of) opens up an avenue which provides an unnecessary security risk. Even if most end users don't think about that, I guarantee the heads of IT departments will.
  • “If Microsoft adds Ads into Windows 11 - which is a paid product“ It is? Exactly how much did you pay for Windows 11? Windows 10? Try again.
  • What about a free version of Win11? Not talking about free upgrades. I am talking about free version for emerging market.