Windows 11 now comes with its own adware

It used to be that you could pay for a retail version of Windows 11 and expect it to be ad-free, but those days seem to be the end. The latest update to Windows 11 (KB5036980) comes out this week and includes ads for apps in the “recommended” section of the Start Menu, one of the most used parts of the OS.

“The Recommended section of the Start menu will show some Microsoft Store apps,” according to the release notes. “These apps come from a small set of select developers.”

App suggestions are enabled by default, but luckily if you’ve installed an update, you can restore your previous clean Windows experience. To do this, go to Settings and select Personalization > Start and toggle “Show recommendations for recommendations, app promotions, and more” to “off.”

A new “feature” comes a few weeks after that It appeared as an Insider beta, which shows how quickly Microsoft can implement when it wants to. There certainly wasn’t enough time to get the user feedback that the Insider program was intended for.

Given that Windows 11 Home starts at $139, the update will rub customers the wrong way. While removing it isn’t a big deal, it might remind people of the unnecessary time they spend stripping bloatware from OEM Windows installations. Microsoft previously tested ads in Windows 11 File Explorer, but ended the experiment shortly after.

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