Microsoft Tests 'Ads' In Start Menu

John Lister's picture

Microsoft is to run what are effectively ads in the Windows 11 Start menu. The "recommendations" will initially appear only for those who've signed up to be early testers of new features.

The promotions will appear in the "Recommended" section at the bottom of the Start menu. This normally includes links to both installed apps and documents that the user has either recently used or frequently uses. The idea is that these are most likely to be what the user wants to open at any given moment.

Insiders are Test Dummies

The new feature will mean this list also includes suggested apps from the Microsoft Store that the user does not currently have installed. Microsoft hasn't said how it will select these and what, if anything, will decide how relevant they are to a particular user. Whether these are strictly "ads" is open to debate as it's not clear if any money is changing hands.

Only a relatively small number of people will see the new app recommendations for now. It's part of the Beta Channel of the Windows Insider program where users agree to get early access to features that are still in development or being tested. The initial tests will only be for home users (rather than business accounts) in the US and even then only a "small set" of those users will see it.

Tech on Trial

Microsoft is stressing that "we regularly try out new experiences and concepts that may never get released with Windows Insiders to get feedback." That's a strong suggestion it's open to the possibility this will get a very poor reception, something that certainly seems to be the case from those who've already gone public with their thoughts. (Source:

Most of the early feedback and debate has centered on two issues: questioning whether the suggestions really are helpful in any way, and debating whether the Start menu is an appropriate place for any form of promotion. (Source:

Indeed, Microsoft has also published instructions for switching off the feature, namely to select Settings then Personalization then Start and switch off the toggle marked "Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more."

What's Your Opinion?

Is this a smart move by Microsoft? Do you expect it to be rolled out to all users? Is there any possibility this could actually help users?

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Average: 5 (6 votes)


Dennis Faas's picture

I ditched the Windows start menu in favor of Classic Shell (now called "Open Shell") when Windows 8 debuted and haven't looked back. It's 100% free and you won't find any ads there, thank goodness. It's instantaneous, its search bar can find files and other parts of the operating system by simply typing in a few words, and otherwise works flawlessly. Highly recommended!

nospam_5346's picture

I ditched the Windows start menu in Windows 7 for Classic Shell/Open Shell as I prefer the classic start menu.

In any case I always, if possible, disable any item that remembers what I’ve done like frequently used apps, docs, etcetera as well as recently used apps as I consider that to be an invasion of my privacy should I allow anyone to use my computer.

It seems that “features” that make things “easier” really translates to more tracking and less privacy.

And lastly, you shouldn’t have to see ads in your OS. An OS should be just that: a means to use your computer. You don’t always have a choice as to which OS you have to use due to various reasons such as proprietary software, legacy software, gaming (let’s face it currently Windows is still the king in the PC gaming world), etcetera so they have you at their mercy.

Oh, and most likely I would never act on a recommendation from Microsoft. Or Apple for that matter.

kitekrazy's picture

Raising the bar of stupid.

Start menu sucks so just make it worse. Classic Shell is your friend.