Microsoft 'improves' Windows 11 by bringing ads to the Start menu in the US

Windows 11 Start menu ads

In a move which is likely to be greeted with a hostile reception, Microsoft is continuing its obsession with injecting advertising into Windows. The company is using Windows Insiders signed up for Beta Channel to test the controversial addition of ads in the Windows 11 Start menu.

For now, this is a trial which is limited to beta testers in the US, but even if the most negative feedback is forthcoming, it is hard to imagine that Microsoft will back down and not roll out Start menu ads to all Windows 11 users.

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It is difficult to see the addition of advertising in the Start menu in anything other than a negative light, but if we are to draw a modicum of positivity from it, it at least shows that Microsoft is not only obsessed with pumping AI-powered components into Windows 11.

The company, predictably enough, does not refer to advertisements for apps being added to the Start menu as advertising. Rather, it prefers to refer to this "improvement" as a way of bringing app " recommendations" to users. But be under no illusion: this is advertising.

Microsoft writes about the arrival of Start menu ads in the release notes for Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22635.3495

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). This can be turned off by going to Settings > Personalization > Start and turning off the toggle for "Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more". As a reminder, we regularly try out new experiences and concepts that may never get released with Windows Insiders to get feedback. Should you see this experience on the Start menu, let us know what you think. We are beginning to roll this out to a small set of Insiders in the Beta Channel at first.

The move should not come as a complete surprise as Microsoft has history here, having done very much the same in Windows 10.

While it is possible to disable the display of app recommendations (by, as Microsoft points out in the release notes which are not read by many people, visiting Settings > Personalization > Start > Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more) this doesn't feel like something users should have to do.

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