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More ads are set to plague your Windows 11 PC, thanks to Microsoft

The operating system's Start menu could soon include additional promotions for applications not already installed on your gaming PC.

The default Windows 11 desktop background, with an anthropomorphic Microsoft logo holding a moneybag in its hand peeking out from the right

It’s no secret that Windows 11 continues to endure a rocky reputation, despite efforts to improve the operating system since its launch almost three years ago. Sadly, though, recent Insider builds suggest Microsoft may also introduce some unwelcome changes to the OS to the future, including the addition of more ads.

Love it or hate it, Windows 11 is practically a necessity for the majority of system builders trying to put together the best gaming PC possible. However, to its credit, features like Auto HDR and DirectStorage do make drawbacks, such as requiring a mandatory Microsoft account, easier to stomach.

Gamers have been left wanting by recent Windows 11 updates, though, with Microsoft placing its efforts into the likes of Copilot. Potential features, such as a DLSS alternative, are seemingly in the pipeline, but it appears they may arrive part and parcel with an increase in ads.

While delving through a recent Insider build, PhantomOfEarth shared some groan-inducing findings on X. In their post (via Windows Central), they share screenshots of the Start menu, now sporting a “Promoted” spot for apps (in other words, an advertisement).

Microsoft and system manufacturers already do this within the ‘Pinned’ section of the Start menu, with shortcuts to apps that aren’t already installed on your system, but this is the first time it’s shown up in the ‘Recommended’ section. At least these apps now include an explicit banner, rather than dragging you somewhat unawares to the Microsoft Store.

A screenshot of a Windows 11 Start menu, from an Insider build, with increased advertisements

Thankfully, these ads can be banished with a quick trip to the Start menu personalization settings menu. Still, I don’t think anyone welcomes any additional steps to get Windows 11 in a state where it runs for your benefit, rather than advertisers.

These advertisements are, for now, contained to Insider builds, but look likely to become part of a Windows update shortly. Perhaps we’ll see them sneak in as part of the Windows 12 launch, which is rumored to occur later this year.

I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that Valve will eventually put its full weight behind SteamOS 3 for desktops, which could serve as a welcoming Linux alternative to Windows. However, I imagine we’ll sooner see the Steam Deck 2 arrive before that point.