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Lenovo goes behind Microsoft's back – preinstalls "Pokki Start Menu" software

Lenovo Desktop with Pokki

The disappearance of a Start button and traditional Start Menu from Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8, has been controversial. Many users who have been using the software for years feel discombobulated when trying to find their list of installed applications in the new OS. While most OEMs are hoping Windows 8.1’s decision to reintegrate a Start button will clam user frustrations, Lenovo has gone one step farther.

The world’s largest PC manufacturer, Lenovo, will begin installing a piece of software onto all of its Windows 8 machines that will bring users closer to the traditional start menu. Pokki, a piece of software developed by startup, SweetLabs, adds an “acorn start button” in place of where the “windows start button” used to sit.

The button provides access to a more traditional start menu along with a collection of apps that can be downloaded from Pokki’s own application store. SweetLabs states that they intend on expanding their app store to include traditional desktop applications and Windows 8 applications. Co-founder, Chester Ng, made a statement regarding the recent arrangement with Lenovo:

"We started our company five years ago with a plan of building the largest app distribution platform on the planet, we think this is a pretty major step in that direction."

A closer look at Pokki does show quick links to document libraries, the control panel, and currently installed applications. Users who have missed the traditional start menu will definitely feel more at home with Pokki installed. The application can either sit in your taskbar as a standalone button or get rid of the new Windows button all together. If you want to have Pokki look exactly like the Windows 8.1 Start button and even intercept when the "Windows Key" is pressed – you can do that.

We are not sure whether or not the new implementation will make Windows 8 users equivalently happy as compared to the anger Microsoft is no doubt feeling right now. We have reached out to Lenovo for further comments and will update you when we receive a response.

For users interested in trying out Pokki themselves, it is free and can be downloaded here.

Source: GeekWire

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Lenovo goes behind Microsoft's back – preinstalls "Pokki Start Menu" software

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Pokki is awful and isn't it freeware? They try to sell you on all their own apps as you use the start button. Only going to confuse people further to have apps from completely different stores.

I gave my RT to the wife and bought a pro. I almost wish I just bought two RTs. I love it! Love my pro, but I really really like RT

Very underpowered for ???
That is all perspective based. I personally do not own an RT device but I have, of course heard the underpowered statements before. If its underpowered for its main purpose (email/web surfing/etc) then thats certainly a problem. If your trying to do things it wasn't designed to do then you might be disappointed.
Imagine a 4 cyl motor. That motor works great when put into a small car. Not so good when that same motor is put into a truck.

It's not underpowered at all; it's quite a demonstration of what can be done with 4 measly ARM cores. I'm only surprised that it is Microsoft showing off here who had done a great job in the past wasting resources and driving hardware demands up. It's freakingly annoying though that they're c*ckblocking free software developers from delivering free high quality which are still mostly absent from the Windows Store.
I'll call bullshit on your pointless 4 cylinder comparison. 4 cylinders are the new 6 cylinders and 3 cylinders the new 4 cylinders. Ford thinks the majority of their cars (including the big sedans) will sell with the new 3 cyl engine in 2 years. Actually I never owned a car with more then 4 cylinders and would still leave you behind in the dust on a German autobahn; heck, I'll even take the minivan not the BMW for that. MAN, Volvo, Mercedes and likely others as well do offer trucks with 4 cylinder diesels by the way.

Its only underpowered for someone who wants a full computer. It actually has twice the CPU and twice the RAM of the latest full size iPad.

I don't get the point of pro. Everything that pro can do that RT can't do, I wouldn't ever want to do on a tablet anyway. At least not something as small as 10". For photoshop, a 20" pen enabled screen might be nice, but 10 is too small. Video editing practically demands multi-monitor. Pro just seems like a waste. RT is really good for what tablets are used for. Media consumption.

Both the RT and the Pro has an extra monitor output plug also for the pro since it is a mini display port, you can get a splitter to display mutiple monitors. I use my Surface Pro as my main computer where i can game on it and also do my work on it. Also the small screen and the weight makes the tablet a lot easier to take with me than a laptop a design tablet. As a person that doesnt drive, using the Surface Pro is 100X better than anything else. Try designing on a bumpy bus ride on whatever you use that is portable

That's hideous. Even by OEM software standards.

Would much rather have Lenovo concentrate on removing bloatware on their machines than expand on it. They also need to accept the fact that the Start menu is done with.

On a more personal note, I have no idea why the new "Start menu" in Windows 8 gets so much hatred. Just because it takes you out to a screen with full icons instead of a pop-up with small icons? That has to be the most awful piece of reasoning ever thought of.

Or maybe its because many people find it not very optimal to use with a mouse...i do like how philosophical you guys are getting over the start menu though.

Microsoft can't be happy about that. They have strict policies about their software. Maybe this is why Ballmer is on the outs, its a conspiracy.

No they don't. They only recently came out with "Signature Edition" PCs and you can only get them from Microsoft directly. Next time I buy a laptop, it will be a signature edition, because I just can't be bothered by bloat anymore. Fortunately 90% of my use is on desktop which are automatically signature editions because I'm the one building them.

"...I just can't be bothered by bloat anymore."
This. I cannot believe how stubborn people are. They take 5 seconds using Windows 8, then pay someone to install Windows 7 on their machine because its "so impossible to use with a mouse!"
The only area I agree with people is the grab and swipe down to close gesture on a trackpad. That's the only thing I can't seem to do correctly everytime. I'm sure that's my fault.

I completely forgot that this comment started to be about bloatware. I was over that back when I got my first and only Dell with XP on it. I too build my own now.

Isn't it funny how all these companies decry Windows 8 but have no problem profiting from it. Hypocritical to say the least.

Hopefully you can uninstall this crapware. One more reason to get a Microsoft Signature PC from the Microsoft Store.

One day there will be, you just have to stay positive! And constantly bombard Microsoft with emails!

I don't get it OEMs have been installing crapware on their PC since windows was invented why does MS care especially since they've given up on killing the start button

Time for MS to lockdown W8 and WP8 with NO carrier or OEM ability to install NON MS APPROVED CRAP. Possibly, for OEMs like Nokia, MS would just approve EVERYTHING that they publish. This is a disgrace and EMBARRISING for the Windows platform.

I am really happy that MS is finally adding tutorials to the start menu. I was asking for them even before launch, but they decided that people should just discover stuff on their own or something.

I don't miss the Start button at all.  Especially when I learned the right click shortcut where start button used to be..  I just tried that on Win7 at work..  Pretty lame in comparrison....  I'm looking forward to Win8.1.  Not for a stupid button, but for the fact that Snap allows you to adjust the screen percentange.  I thought that was gonna be a feature in Win8 and was dissappointed to see it was unchanged in desktop from win7. 
 
I also don't get why people say Win8 sucks for mouse and is only usable with touchscreen.  Mouse wheel is fantastic with start menu....  To each their own...

It's definitely worse with mouse only, especially with 2 monitors. Keyboard shortcuts help. I can't stand the charm bar for many reasons. Also, flipping to the start screen is a bit disjointed with 2 monitors. Win8 generally gets in my way, hides options and slows me down... Win7 is still a nicer experience for me.

Totally agree with you. I work engineering software all day that will NEVER be ported to the Win8 Modern interface. Win8 start screen is in the way and really slows me down just like you said. I personally prefer Start8 over Pokki, but I wouldn't use a Win8 machine without one of these programs...

You don't even need to use the Charm bar because each of its options has a dedicated keyboard shortcut. In 8.1 you can even skip the start menu completely using Win+Q and start typing.

Yeah, I said "keyboard shortcuts help", but for the average user it's hidden away and not very intuitive. The start screen I can live with, but I I really dislike the charm bar :(

Try going into display settings and moving the monitor up in relation to the other screen. Pretty much fixes having to go clear across the second screen to bring up charms.

What's the point when the Start screen is so much faster than the menu ever was. Getting out of all those nested directories has been liberating.

Pokki is a ram eater it just increases the boot time and bundles up further background tasks the software is cool for just one tym use can never act as a replacement

Don't need another store, total bs!  I suspect they announced this just before 8.1 rtm to hinder Microsoft from modifying the final release bits

Why would Microsoft feel anger? If this encourages more users to adopt windows 8 rather than stick to windows 7 its in their favor!

GOOD! I welcome this move from Lenovo. The removal of the start button menus was STUPID and the vast majority of Windows 8 users complains about it (sorry, fans in this site do NOT count as average consumers). All OEM's should start doing this. Maybe then Microsoft would understand, once and for all, that it's the users who decide what they want or not and not Microsoft who decides what the users want or not.

(And don't bother telling me otherwise. I don't care for YOUR tastes. So spare your time.)

OSX doesn't have a start menu or start screen for that matter(as far as I know). Their users seem to get along fine without it. I am a Windows 8 user and I don't use the start screen at all. In fact Windows 8 showed me I didn't need the start menu.

Except OSX users represent around 6% of the market share. We should remind ourselves that, unlike Mac users who use their computers mainly for recreational and imaging stuff, Windows is used by individuals AND companies. Windows 8 is a disaster for any company. It simply doesn't make sense for enterprise usage. Companies use Windows for work. Not to have people playing with colourful tiles and Apps. I actually bet many companies have already requested Microsoft to complete block the Metro screen for company use.
And many people (me included) use the start button menus quite a lot even outside the office. I honestly spend 90% of my time in desktop mode when I'm using my W8 PC (and I actually have a touch screen monitor). It's a nightmare for me to keep jumping screens just 'cause I want to access program lists or access the properties. And I'm fairly used to the tiles system and to go around a PC.
Now imagine the average user whose thrown into that mess of a OS that W8 is. That's why so many people hate Windows 8 and want things changed. They don't have a problem with the tile screen. They have a problem with the stupid unnecessary changes made to the desktop mode 'cause they work there (remember, even Microsoft Office 2013 jumps to the desktop to work...)
 

I agree with most of you guys...I used hate the software that came prebuild with the OEM PCs...I would definetly format the PC and reload with Win 8.1.

To be honest I used to like Win XP but it was released years ago and after XP it was Win 8 which I liked though many people still hate it...after using Nokia Lumia I do not want to compare any other OS...its so cool.

I actually think Windows XP remains the absolute pinnacle of usability on a desktop PC.  The fact that it's still widely used 12 years after its release is staggering.

Lots of people agree with you, but I never understood it. Compared to Windows 7, XP is so ... old. I can understand the resistance to Windows 8 because it's so different, but 7 is just an improvement on XP.

Just recieved my Sony all-in-one desktop VAIO yesterday and I cannot tell you how much I love this machine.  For those who complian about using Windows 8 is beyond me!  Although the computer is touch screen I seldom ever use my fingers.  It is just as simple to move around with the mouse as it is in Windows 7.  I for one cannot say enough great things about Windows 8. 

First thing I do with mine and family/friends PC is format and install using a clean ISO file. Using the serial that came with the PC, and installing drivers from the web site. I don't even bother booting the thing out of the box. It's amazing how much better the windows experience is that way.

Sigh. I hope with Wíndows 8.1, poeple will finally realize that the Start Screen isn't a replacement of their desktop, but a replacement for the start menu.

The start screen eats an entire screen. I use some design software for work that needs three monitors to be used correctly. The start screen pretty much always wants to take over one of the screens. Hell, it's even taken over all three before. I've tried pretty much everything and the best solution is to use Start8 to boot to desktop and use the old start button.

Not really sure what you've been seeing with the start menu supposedly taking over all three screens at once.

My work PC has four monitors hooked up (and home desktop has dual monitors) and I have no problems with it doing anything like that.  In my experience it has worked just fine with Win 8 and works even better with Win 8.1's enhanced multimonitor support.  The only time the Start Screen takes up a whole screen is when I actively bring it up because I want to access it.  Otherwise it stays out of the way and I'm in working on native desktop applications roughly 95% of the time completely unhindered.  I also really like the fact that I can bring up the start screen on any of the 4 monitors.  Having the Start Screen follow the focus of active applications and pop up wherever I am working is pretty slick and I personally really like that.

As for pokki menu, I think it's unfortunate that Lenovo is installing it by default.  Hopefully after Windows 8.1 drops they will re-think that.  I don't personally want the "start button" that was added back in with 8.1 but if it makes the transition easier for people, then it's a small price to pay.  Just wish they would make it optional.  Have it on by default if they want but give us the option to hide it if we want.  Then ditch it again when Windows 9 is released.

But to each their own.  If people want to use pokki, start8 or the like...  so be it.

All three monitors have been taken over only a few times. To be honest I don't know if its Win8 or Altium doing it.

I'm really looking forward to 8.1 and hopefully some of my Win8 multiscreen issues will go away. I didn't want to mess up my work machine trying out the 8.1 pre-release. I'll wait till its released then give her a go..

Ha! It's like selling a Ferrari with a personal chauffeur...no joy of "binding" and utterly unpredictable ;).

There are better free start buttons out there. Classic Shields start button is awesome and very customizable. Pokki looks cheap and generic. "looks". . . . I have never used it. Just my first impression. I have used Classic Shields and it is nothing but quality

I must insist on this... I am really starting to doubt the authenticity of the users on wpcentral. Reasons being are:
They praise EVERYMOVE microsoft makes even if its a bad one.
They know something is bad and the go on saying how great it is.
Don't get me wrong I own a old htc surround with wp7.8. Its a good OS but not the greatest. When the initial XBOX ONE's DRM was announced it clearly sucked, really bad. Every one here was stating that it was great when it clearly wasn't. Now everyone is saying that the RT is great when it really isn't. You call apple fans fanboys, but look at you! Its o.k. To defend a company but not this much.

WP8 is where we are at now, bro.
If you think everyone was praising the Xbox DRMs or RT then you were doing some selective reading.
Myself, I was fine with the DRM on Xbox One, hoping it would destroy Gamestop and eventually lead to less expensive games... but I guess we'll never know.

They actually were praising the original Xbox DRM's. Actually, the author of this article made an article trying to sell people that the idiotic original DRM policies were not idiotic.

This^^. I don't know if anyone PC games, but Steam is possibly one of the greatest things that happened to PC gaming. Yes you're tied down to their client and you need to be online initially (then you can go offline) to authenticate that you own the games but it allows for much cheaper titles for PC games. Games that are normally 60 bucks on xbox and ps for like a year will drop down to half that and more on Steam. I was really hoping this would happen to the One. Also Gamestop does blow. I tried selling them a still in box ME3 that they were selling for 60, and they would only give me 5 dollars for it (I obviously kept it). I hope they go down eventually. They just rob from consumers.

Why would I have to agree with a majority opinion? The reality is that the majority of the people on these forums are extremely informed, scouting bits of upcoming software on many different blogs, twittersphere, and article aggregators. Xbone drm had a clear vision behind it, most akin to Steam, which is extremely successful. RT is an incredibly underappreciated machine, which is miles ahead of iOS in terms of its OZ. Because of its natural safety due to arm processing, keyboard, and office 365, I still expect great things from it in the corporate world (which is where it should have been marketed to). Anyway, haters gonna hate, but MS is often too much of an engineering company, dreaming up amazing things, and failing to market them properly. However, for those who enjoy the latest tech, it is still the company to follow and deserves deep respect. Make no mistake, MS has an r&d budget of nearly 10bn dollar, that is more than triple the amount the "innovative" Apple spends....

We usually why we feel a move is good or bad. You didn't give any facts regarding your opinion. 7.8 and 8 are good os that are easy and enjoyable to use. They are missing some functions and the biggerst issue is the app situation. However, if you just look at the os on it's own, I think it's better than ios and once some missing features are added, it will be better than android for the average user. Power user will still prefer the customization option that android provides.
Why did the DRM suck. A once a day check in to allow you digitally download games and share them with a group of friends and family sounds like a good idea. It also meant you wouldn't need to insert the disc everytime.  Without some kind of security measure, they can't provide this service without people seriously abusing it. The one draw back was that an internet connection was required. How many of Xbone and PS4 console aren't going to be conected to the internet? They both have many features that need an internet connection and will be pretty crippled without it.  The only part that sucked was the inability to sell the used games.
RT is a fine tablet but it is a bit underpowered and just like wp8 need more apps to be competative. The main issue with it was that it was being sold for too much. To get people to buy a device that has a lot less apps, it has to be a lot cheaper. I personally find the browsing experience on the new ie browser to be much better than on ios or android. It supports flash through the desktop browser. It does have some pretty good apps. Office is a plus. Ability to use most peripheral devices is a plus. A usb and sd slot is a major plus. It just needs a better processor and a higher resolution screen and I think it can compete with the IPAD.

I have to admit, one thing I was hoping for in 8.1s all programs menu was collapsible folders. We develop using NI at work and a vanilla install of only a few of the modules make the selection some 300 items long. Sorting and finding the one module you need is a nightmare.

I don't know what NI is, but it adds 300 icons to the start menu? Sounds like the developer is being lazy. Why not one launcher that will list all the available module? Even with folders, having 300 icons is unwieldy.

Totally agree. Install LabView, Xilinx, Altera, Altium design software and your start screen is instantly filled will 100's of icons you need to get rid of one at a friggn time.

I've moved past the start menu problems. (running 8.1 preview on a non-touch desktop)
It was a learning curve, but once I got used to it, it's fine. I can do everything as before, just as fast.
Fear of change, leaves us all staring at green text on a black screen.

Just another preinstalled crapware. Norton, Symantec, Mcaffee, Avira, WildTangent, Google Toolbar, Ask toolbar, Chrome and now brand new Pokki crapware.
I hate PC OEMs and want to Kill 'em All.

Where is there a single word that indicates this was behind Microsoft's back? They have allowed manufacturers to add customizations to the UI experience for years. HP users, for instance, were aware of Stardock for its Fences program before a lot of people ever knew they existed. They have also not impeded anyone from developing after market start button alternatives in the past year. Multiple manufacturers link you to their own stores as well, and it is not as if Lenovo is blocking access to the Windows store. All this represents is inflammatory BS from hacks being regurgitated by the always lazy staff on this site.

Lenovo always does stuff like that and has been since the IBM days. Remember they've been doing Windows pen and touch screen consistently longer than just about anybody regardless of popularity. Stylistically it's sub par for sure but functionally it works. If you don't have a use for it simply uninstall it. You're not going to hurt their feelings. They not trying to make a statement with it. Just another tool to use if you want. Move on.

Haven't missed the start menu since XP.  Been using the search box since Vista. It is alot faster than clicking through the menus.

I wonder what this Pokki start menu will be like when windows 8.1 is comes out. The windows 8.1 start button will be right where the Pokki button is.

I tried pokki when I was new and frustrated about the new start screen ..but it was more frustrating to move back in time and have all their "download this app" and stuff everywhere ..the only feature I did like was this "notification centre" that was really nice actually..wonder if pokki can be installed but their start-menu disabled with only NC ..let's find out

Microsoft needs to get the OEMs under control. God forbid windows becomes a mess like Android where each brand has their own launcher. Then MS would lose control of the Desktop. If Windows based computers had a different UI on each brand it would not be a good thing.

... They should've used stardock's start 8, looks like part of the OS. I install it to all my clients and no ones the wiser.

Bad idea for a couple of reasons. Firstly, surely there is something in the windows license agreement to state that customers have to be able to access the windows store, it being such a big part of windows 8. Secondly they are replacing something that some users don't like with something that every user will dislike. I could understand them putting the standard windows start menu there, but not this piece of crap.

I think MIcrosoft should add quick shortcuts to the app list screen. Then it will essentially be the same thing as the old start button.

I myself have gotten used to no start menu personally but its nice to see Lenovo listening to some of its customers to please them asap with this.

From that screenshot, Pokki takes up half the screen and has "tiled" app launcher built in. At that point, shouldn't one just stick with the Start Screen? Especially with the new small tiles?

Haha Lenovo that's ridicules. More crap ware is not what we need. At least if u buy a laptop from the Microsoft store, it comes clean.

Bloatware, guess I can add Lenovo to HP, and Dell as makers to never to buy from.
Shame, was looking forward to the miix 8.

I think I summed up the problem with windows 8 & 8.1 here: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_8-desktop/the-problem-with-windows-8-and-how-to-fix-it/9908bf45-5100-4430-8cd8-cac66ec932f0

 

Scaling Issues: Phones VS Tablets VS Desktops

Having a taskbar on a phone is detrimental because real estate is precious i.e. screen size. A taskbar on a tablet is impractical; there is enough space but the space could be better used. A taskbar on a desktop or laptop is useful because the screen size is big enough such that you can't pay attention to everything at once. I'm trying to illustrate that solutions that are great on a desktop can't be scaled down to a phone or vice versa. 

 

The metro screen is a great solution for tablets but not for desktops (especially for my 3 24" monitors). The metro screen monopolizes the whole screen which is useful on a tablet but superfluous on a larger screen desktop. Switching between metro apps is onerous, I have to go through the extra step of going back to the metro screen and finding the other app I want to go in it. This seems silly when I could just slide my mouse down and easily switch between apps from my taskbar. On the other had the taskbar is not practical on a tablet thus the metro screen is a great solution for it.

 

I think the problem is that Microsoft is trying to save costs by combining tablets and desktops with one operating system. I think this is causing them to make decisions that don’t take into account the strengths and weaknesses of the devices the OS is for. Apple understands this (iOS for phones and tablets and OSX for laptops and desktops) each OS is tailored to the devices it will run on. I want to like the Windows OS. Please stop forcing desktop users into tablet solutions. My desktop is not a tablet! 

Some of you are saying Pokki is terrible, have you even really used it? explored its settings? as a start menu its not really any worse than the windows 7 start menu, infact its a tad more flexible. the suggestions panel you see at the bottom of the favorites can be turned off and all apps that you can install within pokki are free. many of which are just downloads of installers of popular apps like Openoffice.org as well as some web apps like netflix. not that those are needed but honestly you make pokki sound like its worse than the windows app store which it isn't. you don't have to use ANY of the pokki apps, not EVER.  you can just use it as a start menu. personally I like using their netflix app.

it should be noted that most of the apps pokki uses are web apps and there is a dev kit to make your own(appears to be chrome apps)

as for why people dont like windows 8 start. that is easier than you think. it was designed for a touch screen and most PCs still dont ship with a touch screen so people prefer the desktop. as someone who has used windows 8 on both a touch screen environment and non touch environment I can tell you I love it with a touch screen and hate it without. the full screewn apps with 1 showing at a time feels a bit backwards to me too so I got a program called Modernmix for that