One of Windows 10's most controversial features could be coming to Windows 11 next

a hand uses the touchscreen on a green microsoft surface laptop 5 running windows 11

Microsoft has angered PC owners on social media by revealing plans to bring adverts to the Start Menu in Windows 11 promoting new applications to download in the Microsoft Store

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 15/04/2024

- 15:40

Updated: 15/04/2024

- 15:40

Microsoft has angered PC owners by testing adverts in the Start Menu

  • Adverts for applications will be shown in the Start Menu
  • Microsoft is testing the ads with PC owners in the United States
  • It only applies to Windows Insiders beta testers for now
  • Business and education users will be exempt from the advertisements

Spare screen real estate in the Start Menu on your Windows 11 PC will now be used to display adverts, Microsoft has confirmed. The adverts will promote new applications to download from the Microsoft Store.

The incoming change, which is currently being trialled with Windows 11 beta testers, mirrors a controversial decision to allow adverts in the Start Menu on Windows 10 — causing outrage at the time.

Microsoft will test the Start Menu adverts, which can be found in the Recommended section of the Start Menu that previously highlighted files that you were most likely to want to open, over the coming weeks and months. If successful, the adverts will likely be rolled out to PCs worldwide.

PCs managed by an organisation — such as laptops issued by a business, or Windows 11 devices in schools — will be exempt from the new adverts, Microsoft confirmed in a blog post about the controversial change.

screenshot of windows 11 with an advert for 1password in the start menu

Microsoft has shared a screenshot of a Start Menu with an advert to the 1Password listing in the Microsoft Store


For everyone else, the adverts will be turned on by default.

Announcing the beta test, Microsoft's Amanda Langowski and Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a company blog: "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.

"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 news of Start Menu adverts has triggered a strong reaction on X, formerly Twitter. Enraged PC users flooded the social network to complain about the decision. One posted: "Windows 11 will now greet you with... Ads!

"As part of a new feature to help Windows users move to other software, Microsoft will now start advertising apps on the start menu. Insane, but actually true."

"It's stuff like this that makes me hate Windows 11. Windows turning into Ad and spyware," another tweeted, before adding: "Also not to forget that they will be starting to charge subscriptions for keeping Windows 10."

The latter refers to the incoming subscription for all Windows 10 users to continue to receive critical security patches and bug fixes. It can cost as much as £337 across three years if PC owners refuse to upgrade, either because they don't like Windows 11 ...or because their machine doesn't meet the minimum hardware requirements established by Microsoft.

"If Windows starts showing me ads, what do I get in return?" one Windows 11 user quipped on X.

If you're one of the Windows Insiders testing out this new feature, it is possible to disable the Start Menu adverts. Head to Settings > Personalization > Start and then disable Show Recommendations For Tips, App Promotions, And More.


As Microsoft states in its blog post, it tests a torrent of new features all of the time ...but not all of these are included in the polished updates that roll-out to millions of PC owners worldwide. Microsoft trialled adverts within File Explorer in Windows 11 last year, before ditching the experiment due to feedback.

As such, the fact that Microsoft is investigating adverts in the Start Menu is no guarantee that it will be offered to users globally. However, Microsoft did show similar adverts to users on Windows 10, which makes this change seem more likely to make it through the testing phase.

Windows 10 also started to display adverts on the lockscreen ...something that has yet to make the jump to Windows 11.

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