Microsoft stifles third-party interface customization apps in Windows 11 Version 24H2

Windows 11's GUI
(Image credit: Microsoft)

In a move that is sure to receive a negative reaction, it was recently discovered that Microsoft has quietly disabled third-party interface-modifying apps on Windows 11 version 24H2 RTM. While it isn't entirely unexpected for these types of customization apps to break with major updates, Microsoft has actually explicitly blocked some apps, citing stability and security issues—an assertion that a third-party app maker has disputed. 

The upcoming Windows 11 version is a highly anticipated update that is expected to be released in a few months. It will have many interesting and useful features, but there may be a tradeoff as Microsoft created low-effort blocks (at least for now) for customization apps.

StartAllBack and ExplorerPatcher provide interface customization options for Windows 11, allowing users to switch to the familiar Windows 10 interface. StartAllBack, one of the well-known customization apps, showed that its executable file name is hard-blocked, indicating that Microsoft is taking steps against specific apps. When you try installing these apps, Windows 11 triggers a notice that it will not allow the installation as it causes security or performance issues. But there is an easy workaround—you can simply rename the exe file.

Irrespective of how easy it can be to circumvent, creating these types of restrictions, especially when the 'offending' app apparently doesn't create security or stability issues, always leaves a bad aftertaste. Microsoft may also resort to a more aggressive block in future releases. At the time of writing, Windows 11 version 23H2 has no problems with StartAllBack or ExplorerPatch installation.

Microsoft encourages users to switch to Windows 11, but many are hesitant due to UI changes and the mandatory Microsoft account integration (which also has a workaround). The software giant could have addressed these issues (some if not all) by providing options to switch to a Windows 10-style interface, reducing the need to rely on third-party apps (assuming legitimate security or stability concerns exist).

Microsoft may remove the blocks once Windows 11 24H2 releases, but we'll have to wait and watch how this unfolds in the near future. Many users rely on certain customization options to have an older interface or make it lightweight via apps such as Tiny11

Freelance News Writer
  • AndrewJacksonZA
    From a guy whose Twitter bio says he's a "Windows Development MVP alum" and Rafael says that "Microsoft is blocking unreliable high crash rate software that is extremely sensitive to OS changes," it seems to take the wind out of the sails of your remark in the article of "the 'offending' app apparently doesn't create security or stability issues." I'd personally take his word over yours in this particular case.

    I think it might be an effort to prevent social issues of "Windows sucks because it crashes so much!" but the person saying that might have very little experience in customising Windows. These blocks are only for those versions, after all. From the tweet: "Fixing the bugs and revving the version number is likely all that's needed here (this time)."
  • ezst036
    Microsoft: If you want to stay on Windows then what you need to do is pipe down, shut up, and do things the Microsoft way.

    I think its quite obvious that Microsoft does not care, they were even brazen enough to give instructions on how to install Linux only a few months ago. If you really want a customizable GUI, you only have one choice. Things like this are the reason why Linux went from 3% to 4% market share in less than a year.
  • coromonadalix
    yeah right
    Microsoft IS an unreliable high crash rate software that is extremely sensitive to Microsoft updates
    I had this week an fresh win 11, and suddenly crashed, due to their KBxxxx quality updates, had to remove them TO BE ABLE TO WORK

    Startallisback combined with explorer patcher on my personal pc is the sole reason i can work with this piece of #%@$ of windows, they destroyed what was good in W10 ............

    So sick and tired of Msoft, but alas need an windows platform if React OS was developped enough i would dump microsoft, for ever
  • waltc3
    This has not been my experience with Startallback and all the beta-channel updates through the most recent build, 22635.3430. The couple of times that Starttallback has caused a problem with a beta-channel Win11 build, the developer has responded immediately with an update that solves the problem--sometimes on the same day. StartallBack even updates through the standard Win11 update system. Startallback deals with the problem of the Win11 taskbar being nowhere near as customizable as it has been in previous versions of Windows, so when Microsoft changes the code relative to some taskbar functionality, it may cause a problem with the current version of SAB, but as I say it will be remedied immediately by the SAB developer. Current version of SAB is 3.7.8. I've got software costing far more than the $4.99 cost of SAB that isn't updated nearly as often as SAB...;) It's made Win11 far more fun to use than that butt-ugly bottom-feeding taskbar that is immovable. Ugh.
  • coromonadalix
    yep same here the developpers degugged pretty fast

    and i was glad to pay a mere 5-6 $ CAD to have something good and working

    the 2 ones who work are starallisback and start 11, but not free

    openshell mmmm never really tried it back, was messy in the past
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Article title should be: "Microsoft disables third party UI tools for stability". I use ExplorerPatcher and it can have issues, just right clicking on Start and choosing an option can cause it to crash and Windows Powershell (Administrator) doesn't work, among other things, so considering the supposed major update of 24H2 it seems prudent to disable them. Bit of a dick move to just outright disable them without a warning prompt first, but it's far from "stifling" third party UI programs, since those programs still work.
  • MacZ24
    People are hesitating to switch to Windows 11 because it is an inferior system.

    Just like the Windows store, MS tries to remove options and freedom from its users to benefit ITSELF.

    Like in a lot of industries, the lack of meaningful innovations has led to corporations turning on their users for growth.

    Call it mission creep, feature creep or inflation : it essentially forces users to buy stuff they don't want or need (for 90% of them) because it is 'new'. And if it involves a recurring payment, it is even better.

    But at the end of the day, it is, for most people, paying more for no more usefulness : it's pure inflation.
  • hotaru251
    MacZ24 said:
    People are hesitating to switch to Windows 11 because it is an inferior system.
    not really.

    Its just theres no reason TO change. 8 was bad so 10 made sense....but 10 works fine so no reason to go 11.

    90% of users wont benefit from any of the new changes...and many will hate the new layout of stuff they have grown accustom to over past 30yrs.

    If 11 can't be customized beyond what MS says I will die on WIN10 until its literally impossible to use and then go linux.

    also the whole "citing stability and security issues" ....its a PC...let the USERS take the risk if they choose to.

    Just put up a warning that it could cause issues and then you arent responsible.
  • 35below0
    ezst036 said:
    Microsoft: If you want to stay on Windows then what you need to do is pipe down, shut up, and pretend you'll do things the Microsoft way. Then do them your own way.
    Fixed it for ya. ;)
  • coromonadalix
    Msoft will nag more and more and push the users away, if they continue this stupid game

    Disable smartscreen and enjoy more peace ??
    Msoft may or will lock any chance of doing UI configs, and all related registry tricks may come to an end

    I do hope Europe once again will sue msoft for monopolistic abuse or any big countrie with balls, now teams will get separated from Office ... about time

    But here in NA we have no balls