The world's number one PC manufacturer Lenovo has announced that a replacement Start button for Windows 8 will be installed on many of its devices, beginning in the next few weeks.
Windows 8 has struggled to make an impact in businesses, in part because its interface is so different from what went before. The tiled GUI is designed to work across a variety of devices including touch screen tablets, but for many traditional users on PCs and laptops it has proved too much of a learning curve.
The most common moan about Windows 8 is the lack of the Start button, which has been a recognisable feature of all versions of Microsoft's operating system since Windows 95. For mouse users, launching the equivalent of Start now involves clicking at the bottom of the screen or loading the charms bar, both of which are much less intuitive than the Start button - and being intuitive is what GUI design is all about.
Microsoft has bowed to the inevitable and brought back a version of the Start button in Windows 8.1 which is due for release on 18th October. Back in May Redmond announced that the Start button will be returning as a "tip".
However, many were disappointed to learn that rather than activating the menus that the Start button did in previous versions, the new Start tip will instead take users to their Start screen.
But Chinese device manufacturing giant Lenovo has seemingly decided that this is not enough, and is to start preloading some of its Windows 8 devices with a Start replacement by startup SweetLabs, which announced its partnership with Leonovo at an Intel Capital conference yesterday.
The Pokki start menu will start appearing on new Lenovo devices shortly, with the IdeaPad and ThinkPad laptop ranges and IdeaCentre PCs thought to be first in line. However, Pokki is far from just a button. SweetLabs, which is backed by Intel, runs its own appstore and Pokki will provide access to these apps, including PC applications and social media apps, as well many already available in Windows' own appstore. Thirteen languages are already supported.
SweetLabs co-founder Chester Ng said the company has already seen millions of downloads of Pokki on Windows 8. SweetLabs' app distribution capability is "how we help OEMs make more money," he told Bloomberg.
Indeed, some commentaters have already noted that Pokki nags users to install apps from the firm's store.
It is possible, therefore, that rather than being relieved to find a simple replacement front door to Windows 8, users will find Pokki to be the equivalent of a bustling market, complete with pushy salesmen, parked in the front hallway.