Windows 11 KB5036980 (April 2024 optional update) has been released for 23H2 and 22H2. This optional update adds advertisements to the Start menu for third-party apps. In addition to Windows Update, Microsoft has posted direct download links for Windows 11 KB5036980 offline installers (.msu) on its Update Catalog.

KB5036980 is an optional update that brings Windows 11 23H2 to Build 22631.3527. If you’re on 22H2, you’ll get the same optional patch, but it will bump the OS to Build 22621.3527 instead. Today’s optional release is the last patch in the April 2024 cycle. If you skip the optional update, you’ll automatically get its fixes in May 2024 Patch Tuesday.

So, what’s particularly interesting about Windows 11’s April 23 update? The Start menu ads. The ads were expected to appear in the stable builds towards the end of May and become available for everyone with the June 2024 Patch. However, Microsoft seems to have enabled the Start menu ads for everyone.

Start menu ads in Windows 11 Build 22631.3527
Start menu ads in Windows 11 Build 22631.3527 | Image Courtesy:

As shown in the screenshot above from my device, there’s a new ad for a third-party app in the Start menu. This is just one of the companies that paid Microsoft to promote their famous browser in the Start menu. You’ll see similar ads for other services, including Password1 Manager.

Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more
Disable the toggle to turn off all ads in the Start menu | Image Courtesy:

Hate the ads? Head to Settings > Personalization > Start and turn off the toggle “Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more.”

Download Links for Windows 11 KB5036980

Windows 11 KB5036980 Direct Download Links: 64-bit | 23H2, 22H2.

Build 22631.3527 is an optional update, and it won’t download or install automatically on Windows 11 23H2, but you can still get it via Windows Update.

2024-04 Cumulative Update Preview for Windows 11 Version 23H2

Head to Settings > Windows Update, check for updates and manually hit the “Download & Install” button. On Windows Update, this patch shows up as:

2024-04 Cumulative Update for Windows 11 Version 23H2 for x64-based Systems (KB5036980)

KB5036980 offline installer in .msu format

You can also open the Microsoft Update Catalog from the above link, click Download next to the supported edition, and double-click the .msu link in the pop-up window (refer to the above screenshot)

What’s new in Windows 11 Build 22631.3527

In addition to ads in the Start menu, Windows 11 Build 22631.3527 or newer has another Start menu feature.

New Start menu recommendations

The Start menu can now recommend apps. The recommendations differ from the “prompted” apps, which are ads.

Unlike ads, this new feature highlights the best apps from the Microsoft Store, and it will appear alongside your recently opened files or pictures and under the “recommendations” section of the Start menu.

If you don’t like Start recommending the best apps from the Microsoft Store, you can turn off the “Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more” toggle in Settings > Personalization > Start.

Show recommendations for tips, app promotions, and more
Disable the toggle to turn off all ads in the Start menu | Image Courtesy:

One other notable change in KB5036980’s optional update is a new taskbar widget icon that is no longer pixelated. For example, if you see a taskbar icon for the weather condition, that icon won’t be pixelated anymore.

More control over the lock screen

Similarly, there are some improvements to the lock screen.

Last month, Microsoft started rolling out MSN-based widgets to everyone on Windows 11 (and Windows 10). However, the MSN widgets were rushed out and had some minor bugs, which have been fixed in Build 22631.3527 or newer. Additionally, there are new visual animations for the lock screen widgets.

Windows 11 lock screen widget animations
Windows 11 lock screen widget animations | GIF Courtesy:

Microsoft previously told Windows Latest that it was working on a new setting to give you greater control over the “lock screen widgets”. That change seems to be rolling out with the April 2024 optional patch, and you’ll find it in Settings > Personalization > Lock screen > Lock screen status.

However, it’s being A/B tested, so most of you won’t see it right away.

In the release notes, Microsoft confirmed that it fixed an issue where the lock screen widgets displayed outdated information. After the update, the MSN widgets will correctly show the new weather and sports updates on the lock screen.

About The Author

Mayank Parmar

Mayank Parmar is an entrepreneur who founded Windows Latest. He is the Editor-in-Chief and has written on various topics in his seven years of career, but he is mostly known for his well-researched work on Microsoft's Windows. His articles and research works have been referred to by CNN, Business Insiders, Forbes, Fortune, CBS Interactive, Microsoft and many others over the years.