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Microsoft seemingly admits "ads" on Windows 11 Start menu are in the works

Windows 11 logo with a red background

Last week, Microsoft released build 26200.5001 to the Windows 11 Canary channel Insiders. The build brings Widgets improvements, and more changes plus bug fixes

Alongside the announced set of changes though, the company is also tweaking the Settings text related to the Recommended section toggle in Windows 11 which now specifically mentions "ads."

While the previous text stated "Show recommendations for tips, shortcuts, new apps, and more" the updated text, hidden at the moment, states "Show recommendations for tips, shortcuts, new apps, ads, and more".

The change was first noticed by Twitter (now X) user Xeno and then later, another user Albacore added more context to it.

This could mean one of two things, either Microsoft is trying to come clean and appropriately label the Recommended content, or second, more adware may indeed be coming to the Start menu.

Interestingly, Albacore also noticed a new UDK API for requesting the "EdgeMicrosoftUserId" for User Profile Personalization purposes, so these two might be related, as in we might get Windows 11 Start menu ads based on our Edge browsing habits. However, this is entirely speculation and the Edge UDK API may be there to serve a completely different, unrelated purpose.

Although not the same thing, this does remind a bit about the recent UCPD driver that Microsoft quietly added to block Registry changes related to default app switching.

If you recall, earlier this month, we reported about a dedicated button for such recommendations that Microsoft is currently contemplating adding to the Taskbar. Soon enough, Start menu ads and promos went live, with Windows 11 Beta channel build 22635.3495.

Finally, with the latest non-security optional preview update for Windows 11 (KB5036980, builds 22621.3527 and 22631.3527), the ads are now out to non-Insiders too.

All this is not going unnoticed by industry veterans, even by ex-Microsoft staff. A former Microsoft UX head made a sarcastic remark about the situation and another ex-engineer criticized the "comically bad" performance of the Start menu.

Thankfully, not every change about the Start menu is bad as the tech giant is currently trying to make the "All apps" option in it, much better.

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