Microsoft Starts Testing Ads in the Windows 11 Start Menu

It’s a not-so-fun throwback to the early Windows 10 days.

Microsoft Starts Testing Ads in the Windows 11 Start Menu

Microsoft has packed a lot of improvements into Windows 11, but there are also more advertisements and unwanted integrations than previous releases. Now, Microsoft is testing advertisements directly in the Start Menu.

Microsoft just released Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22635.3495 (KB5037000) in the Beta Channel for Insider testers, which adds recommendations for apps from the Microsoft Store to the Start Menu. The recommended apps appear in the “Recommended” section of the main Start Menu page, below the grid of apps and system search box.

Microsoft said in a blog post, “Building on top of recent improvements like grouping recently installed apps and showing your frequently used apps, we are now trying out recommendations to help you discover great apps from the Microsoft Store under Recommended on the Start menu. This will appear only for Windows Insiders in the Beta Channel in the U.S. and will not apply to commercial devices (devices managed by organizations).”

Microsoft Starts Testing Ads in the Windows 11 Start Menu

The recommended applications, which are effectively advertisements, can be turned off in the Settings app from Personalization > Start > “Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more.” However, this is adding to the already-large pile of settings and toggles you have to turn off to get a clean Windows 11 experience.

There were leaks earlier this month that app recommendations were coming to the Start Menu, but this is the first time Microsoft has confirmed the change. Some earlier leaks showed a “Promoted” badge next to the app name, but there’s no label in the current Beta Channel. That could change in future test releases, or Microsoft could just rip out the functionality entirely—we’re not counting on the latter, though.

Microsoft has already used the Recommended section in the Windows 11 taskbar for promoting apps and services. The company started testing recommended web links in November 2022, though the recommendations were supposedly based on your previous browsing behavior. The Windows 10 Start Menu also used to recommend apps and games from the Microsoft Store, on top of third-party games like Candy Crush and FarmVille 2 often being installed automatically.

Source: Windows Insider Blog

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