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Microsoft starts stuffing ads in the Windows 11 Start menu

A Windows 11 Insider Preview banner

Microsoft recently pushed the latest Windows 11 Insider build 22635.3495 for Beta channel members and announced that it will be skipping Canary or Dev channels. In the official changelog for build 22635.3495, one of the highlights was that Microsoft will start testing ads in the Windows 11 Start menu with the latest Insider build.

According to Microsoft, ads will be shown in the Windows 11 Start menu to beta users who have installed the latest Windows 11 Insider Preview build and reside in the US. Furthermore, the company clarified that ads won't show up on commercial devices (devices managed by organizations).

Microsoft shows "Pinned" apps above a series of "Recommendations." Notably, the recommendations usually contain recently used files or apps and also show apps that you have installed recently. Now with the new change, the "Recommendations" section now includes recommended apps from the Microsoft Store in the form of ads.

It is not clear whether or not the app developers are paying to show their ads in the Windows 11 Start menu. Microsoft, on the other hand, does get its cut for apps distributed through its Store.

Thankfully, one great news is that you can disable ads in the Windows 11 Start menu pretty easily. Simply follow the below steps:

  1. Press the Win + I keys on your keyboard to open the Settings app.
  2. Select Personalization from the left pane.
  3. Scroll down and click on Start.
  4. Toggle off Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more option.

Reportedly, Microsoft seems to be confused about whether or not it should add a dedicated Windows 11 button for ads and promotions. It did introduce the Settings menu toggle that lets you turn on/off new apps, tips, ads, shortcuts, and more, under the recommended section, which was later tweaked to include "app promotions" as well.

This is not the first time Microsoft has shown ads inside Windows. In 2022, Microsoft started showing ads in File Explorer of the Windows 11 Insider build before disabling ads in beta versions of Windows 11, stating that it was an unintentional move.

Also, a former Microsoft engineer Andy Young also pointed out the slow performance of the Windows 11 Start menu on a $1600 Intel Core i9 PC with 128 GB system memory. He termed the performance "comically bad" and one of the purported reasons behind it could likely be the additional code for ads and promotions of Windows 11 shows via the recommended section.

Now, it remains to be seen if it is the same case with the latest test of showing ads in the Windows 11 Start menu and whether Microsoft will be forced to remove ads on shipping versions of Windows 11.

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