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Lenovo gives Windows 8 vote of no confidence by bundling Start menu stand-in

Gregg Keizer | Aug. 23, 2013
Emphasizes the traditional Windows desktop over the Metro UI with Pokki Start button, Start menu and alternative app store

Pokki's app store generates recommendations based on what users launch on their PCs, said Ng, a feature that was attractive to Lenovo.

Traditionally, OEMs bundle software, usually trial versions, with their hardware -- critics label it "crapware" -- as a way to squeeze more revenue out of the thin-margin systems. Software makers pay OEMs a commission on sales of their full-featured applications or games when users upgrade to a paid version.

But those bundles are static -- the same for everyone -- Ng said. And with the lead time necessary for building, shipping and selling a PC, they're often stale by the time they reach customers.

Pokki's app store, on the other hand, will let Lenovo owners decide which apps they want to download. And because it's Web-based, offerings can be updated instantly to, for example, pitch a new edition of "Angry Birds" the day its publisher, Finnish game maker Rovio, launches it.

Lenovo will be paid by SweetLabs out of the latter's portion of the revenue that app developers make from the Pokki app store. While the apps themselves are free -- Pokki's app store has no purchase "cart" -- developers upsell customers using their own in-app payment options.

"We generate revenue from app developers who are looking for promotion and distribution," said Ng, "then share that revenue with our partners, including OEMs."

Pokki's Start button and menu, and its app store are compatible with both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, Ng confirmed, and will also appear on Lenovo's Windows 8.1 notebook and desktop PCs when those ship later this year.

Users with existing Windows 7 or Windows 8 PCs can download the free Pokki suite from SweetLabs' website.

Pokki restores a Start button and modified Start menu to Windows 8. (Image: SweetLabs.)


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