The Windows 11 Start Menu is controversially testing ads, again

Windows 11 Start menu dark
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is testing prompts within Start menu flyouts that suggest people sign up for a Microsoft account or use OneDrive.
  • The promotional items seem to have first rolled out with Windows 11 Build 25227.
  • Several online have complained about the prompts.

Microsoft is testing a controversial change within the Start menu of Windows 11. In recent Insider builds of the operating system, the Start menu shows prompts to back up files through OneDrive or sign up for a Microsoft account within flyout menus. While the promotional content is only in testing, it has drawn criticism from many around the web.

"What imaginary person wants this?" asked Twitter user tumult. Others took more aggressive approaches or shared jokes about the change that mocked Microsoft.

From what we can tell, Microsoft began testing this change with Build 25227, which first shipped to the Dev Channel on October 19, 2022. Under the "Changes and Improvements" section, the changelog states, "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."

It appears that the badging mentioned by Microsoft refers to the prompts within the Start menu to use OneDrive or sign up for a Microsoft account.

Twitter user Albacore highlighted the prompts on Twitter.

This isn't the first instance of ads appearing within core elements of Windows. Microsoft controversially tested ads within File Explorer earlier this year. The company claimed that the ads were not meant to be published externally but did not dispute that they were in testing.

We have a guide on how to disable annoying ads on Windows 11 if you'd like to turn off some of the operating system's prompts and promotions. There is a section within that guide to remove ads from the Start menu, but it covers a different set of ads than those that were recently spotted in Build 25227.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at