Microsoft may try to block third-party customization apps in Windows 11 24H2

So far, at least two customization apps won't install or run in the current beta for this year's major Windows 11 update.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Program like StartAllBack may not be able to run in Windows 11 24H2
Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Do you use a Start menu alternative or another tool to customize Windows 11's interface? If so, you may be blocked from installing and running such programs when jumping to the upcoming Windows 11 24H2 update.

The popular Start menu alternative StartAllBack and the interface customization tool ExplorerPatcher both don't work in the current Windows 11 24H2 beta, according to Neowin. Trying to install either tool triggers the following message: "This app can't run because it causes security or performance issues on Windows. A new version may be available. Check with your software provider for an updated version that runs on this version of Windows."

Also: Windows 11: Do these six things right away after you finish setup

There does seem to be a simple workaround. You can sneak past the block and install StartAllBack or ExplorerPatcher just by renaming the program's downloaded executable file.

In my testing, I was able to reproduce the problem. When I tried to install either StartAllBack or ExplorerPatcher, Windows 11 stopped them from running and displayed the message blaming security or performance. Renaming the installation file in both cases allowed me to install the program. I also tried a few other customization apps, including Start 11, Open-Shell, and Taskbar 11 -- they all installed without any issues.

Given Windows' limited customization options, programs like StartAllBack and ExplorerPatcher give people the freedom to tweak the interface in key ways. StartAllBack lets you change the Start menu back to the more traditional layout found in Windows 7 or Windows 10. ExplorerPatcher also helps you tweak the Start menu as well as replace the Windows 11 taskbar with the Windows 10 version.

Many of these customization tools became popular with the release of Windows 8, which jettisoned the traditional Start menu and forced people to use the tablet-focused but clumsy Start screen. Such tools continue to serve a purpose, especially with the changes Microsoft made to the Start menu and Taskbar in Windows 11.

I use Start 11 as my Start menu alternative and have often used ExplorerPatcher as well. For me, both of these are essential tools as they let me run Windows the way I want, not the way Microsoft wants.

Also: Windows 11 FAQ: ZDNET's upgrade guide and everything else you need to know

To be fair, Windows 11 24H2 is still in an early beta state. We don't yet know if this blocking restriction will carry over into the final release, which reportedly will launch in September 2024. We also don't know how widespread or limited this issue might be, as my testing found problems with just StartAllBack and ExplorerPatcher. Further, the developers behind such tools have had to update their apps in the past to support the latest versions and builds of Windows, which may also be the case here.

Microsoft's blocking message refers to security issues. On the one hand, the company has to worry about how third-party apps may circumvent the security of its operating system. On the other hand, Microsoft has a history of preventing users from trying to customize Windows to make the interface work and look the way they prefer. Hopefully, whatever conflicts pop up between Windows 11 24H2 and these third-party apps can be resolved before the update officially launches.

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