Windows 11 Start Menu Gets Ads

John Lister's picture

Microsoft is once again testing advertising for its own products in Windows 11. This time the promotion appears in the Start menu.

As with the previous testing, it's unclear how likely the advertising is to be rolled out to all users. It seems Microsoft is not just testing the technology itself but also how users will respond.

Back in March, a selection of users in the Windows 11 test program started seeing promotions in the File Explorer tool. One suggested the user install a Microsoft-made browser extension for getting spelling and grammar suggestions when typing on websites such as forums.

At the time, Microsoft says the promotion was being tested internally and it had not intended to show it to any users, even those in the public test program.

Notification Badge Nags

This time round, Microsoft trailed the testing, albeit in a low key manner. In a document listing the changes in a recent test edition of Windows 11 it said "we are trying out a small change to the Start menu where some Insiders will see 'badging' on their user profile notifying them that certain actions need to be taken." (Source:

In principle that might be useful if the actions were necessary, for example saving documents and closing applications, or installing a key update.

However, several users have noticed a "badge" appearing in the Start menu when they go to shut down their computer. This badge shows an orange notification "dot", a common way of showing that an application has an update or notification, or needs some user action.

OneDrive Promoted

The text next to the badge reads "Complete your profile" or a similar message. Depending on the promotion, clicking through will either ask the user to sign up for a Microsoft account, or suggest they set up a OneDrive account. That's Microsoft's real-time backup service that copies files to a remote cloud server.

That's proven particularly controversial as OneDrive is a "freemium" service. Users can backup 5GB of files free of charge, but more extensive packages start at $20 a year.

Microsoft hasn't commented publicly on the testing other than to repeat the wording from the test program changelog. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Should Microsoft place promotional material in the Start menu? Is it misleading to label signing up to OneDrive as a required action? Do you think it will roll this out to all users?

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Dennis Faas's picture

This is why I use Open Shell / Classic Shell to replace my start menu in Windows 10. I still have not moved to Windows 11 (yet) because there was an issue whereby Open Shell would not work properly, but that appears to be fixed now.

nospam_5346's picture

No they shouldn’t and yes it’s misleading. Here is yet another reason to not switch to 11.

There are some nice upgrades under the hood in 11, but as usual, Microsoft just can’t resist messing with the GUI and making everyone relearn how to do what they already know how to do all the while adding additional clicks to do it. Whose bright idea was it to truncate the right click menu? To add additional clicks to get to where you want to be in the start menu? To split the notification menu into multiple menus? And on and on.

I, too, use OpenShell with my Windows 10 and will continue to use it when I’m finally forced to switch to 11.

They want to turn my PC into their marketing tool. It’s an OS. It should operate my computer and nothing else.

buzzallnight's picture

It has been all down hill since win 7

but $8 and hour programmers from india are cheaper
and if they are good enough for Boeing
oh wait,
they weren't
never mind....