Microsoft could soon sneak Start menu ads into Windows 11


Facepalm: Microsoft first introduced ads on the Start menu with Windows 10 but has kept them out of Windows 11 so far, possibly to incentivize migration to its latest version. But that’s likely set to change soon, and it doesn’t come as a surprise – just look at how they push Edge to be the default browser.

The ads may be returning to the Start menu with the next major update. According to recent reports, Microsoft appears to be working on reintroducing promoted app recommendations (read: ads) to the Start menu in Windows 11. It’s an unwanted feature that Microsoft tested last year.

The evidence comes from a post by @PhantomOcean3 on X, better known as Twitter, who spotted updated text in the latest Windows Insider builds referring to “Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more.” That’s a change from the current public builds which say “Show recommendations for tips, shortcuts, new apps, and more.”

To drive the point home, the user also shared a screenshot showing what looks like a “Promoted” tag next to an app in the Start menu. So, ads galore could be headed your way soon.

Windows 10 users may recall that Microsoft previously displayed ads in its Start menu before scrapping them with the launch of Windows 11. But it seems the Redmond giant just can’t quit the ad game.

Now before you grab your pitchforks, there is a silver lining – you should still be able to disable these promotions through the Start menu personalization settings. None of us asked for ads cluttering up our Start menus, but at least we can banish them.

The bigger question is, why is Microsoft doing this? Most likely, it’s an attempt to make the Microsoft Store more enticing for developers by giving them prime real estate to advertise their apps. More apps mean more potential revenue. Windows 11 has already lured extra apps to the store and the company wants to keep that trajectory up.

It’s still frustrating that we have to deal with this in a product we pay for. After all, the Start menu is one of the most prominent elements of the OS that many people use daily.

These ads are limited to the Insider builds for now, but they’ll likely make it to the stable branch sooner or later. If not, perhaps we’ll see them sneak into Windows 12 whenever it arrives.


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