Windows users looking for something resembling the classic Start Menu that was stripped out of Windows 8 don't have to look too far. Several apps that roughly recreate the Start Menu's functionality can be downloaded and installed easily enough.
But some PC manufacturers are making Start menu replacements more visible to users—and we suspect not all PC users will appreciate the way they're going about it. SweetLabs, a company that makes one of these Start menu replacements, announced today that it has a deal with Lenovo to "preload SweetLabs’ Pokki software on new Lenovo PCs shipped worldwide, starting with consumer devices." That's a big deal, as Lenovo is now the top seller of PCs worldwide by some measures. SweetLabs already had a deal with Acer to preload Pokki and various Zynga games.
Today's Lenovo announcement prompted a Bloomberg story titled "Lenovo Turns to a Startup to Bring the Start Menu Back to Windows." But the devil is in the details. This isn't a straightforward replacement of Microsoft's iconic Start menu, which was left out of Windows 8 in favor of the touch-friendly Start screen. According to SweetLabs, Lenovo PCs "will include Pokki’s modern Start menu, app store, and game arcade out-of-the-box, all powered by SweetLabs’ dynamic app recommendation and distribution platform."
SweetLabs says its app store includes desktop apps like Dropbox, Evernote, and Skype, along with "desktop versions of Web and social apps (e.g., Facebook, Gmail, Kabam games)" and "unique Pokki apps (e.g., popular Instagram app, Instagrille, and Twitter desktop app, Tweeki)."
The Pokki app store even includes some Windows Store apps—which is kind of odd given that you can get those apps from the Windows Store.
Pokki's Start menu provides some familiarity, with access to the Windows control panel, power options, and programs and files. But it will also nag you to install new stuff. "Apps are dynamically recommended in the Pokki Start menu, app store, and game arcade to users by SweetLabs’ real-time app recommendation system," SweetLabs' press release notes.