1.5 Million Reasons Microsoft Windows 8 Needs Its Start Menu Back

So far, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Windows 8 isn't working. The operating system is tasked with reinvigorating the stagnant PC market. One of the biggest challenges that Microsoft is pursuing is the dramatic reinventing of Windows 8's interface, a tall order when you consider how many users have become accustomed to Windows over the decades.

Perhaps the most controversial move was the elimination of the Start Menu that we all know and love. The Start Menu originally debuted in 1995 alongside Windows 95 nearly two decades ago. In Windows 8, the Start Menu has been replaced by the Start Screen that features its characteristic live tiles to access various apps.

The lack of a Start Menu is confusing for some consumers -- not too surprising when you think how long they've been trained to go there. Shortly after launch, user interface design specialist told CNET that Windows 8 "smothers usability" and even experienced users had problems figuring it out.

Microsoft now has 1.5 million more reasons to bring back the Start Menu: Pokki.

Pokki is a third-party application launcher for Windows 8 that offers a substitute Start Menu that it calls the Pokki Menu.

Source: Pokki.

It looks and functions just like the traditional Start Menu and also offers options that allow users to bypass the default "Metro" interface and boot directly to the warm embraces of the familiar desktop. The newest version allows you to use the Windows 8 logo instead of Pokki's so it even looks like it's part of the OS.

Pokki has now announced that it's reached over 1.5 million downloads, proof that a large number of Windows users want to go back to the way it was.

Microsoft recently announced 60 million Windows 8 licenses sold. Those downloads would only comprise 2.5% of those licenses sold, but remember that Microsoft's figure represents both upgrades and OEM sales. A lot of the PC sales in the fourth quarter were clearing out Windows 7 inventory, so it's hard to estimate Windows 8 sales to end users, but they're likely much less than 60 million. That also means that the Pokki penetration among the Windows 8 installed base is higher.

Pokki also has its own app store, which could divert traffic and dollars away from the Windows Store, so Microsoft should take note of its growing popularity.

The new interface is a big risk that Microsoft is taking -- a bet that might not be resonating with PC users.

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  • Report this Comment On January 17, 2013, at 9:48 PM, techy46 wrote:

    "The lack of a Start Menu is confusing for some consumers -- not too surprising when you think how long they've been trained to go there."

    Blah, blah, balh this same old complaint gets real odd. If you're too blind or dumb to learn something new then stay with your old horse and ride it but don't screw the world up for the rest of us. W8 and WP8 are fast, fun and pleasingly simplistic to use evidenced by Nokia's 4.4m Lumia sold in 60 days. That's almost 75,000 a day who say the author has sour grapes.

  • Report this Comment On January 18, 2013, at 1:59 AM, Greggoo wrote:

    I work in the world of IT engineering and I would say this start menu is only the tip of the iceberg. Microsoft just doesn’t get it on this rearranging pain of the OS on each release. They rename for no good reason many various aspects of a new OS which puts a painful learning curve on users and techs. Control Panel is another area of silly renaming in different OS releases.

    I would say OK please do advance/improve the back side technical stuff and good going but don’t play “rearrangement and renaming game” with the user GUI presentation. Geeeeez

  • Report this Comment On January 18, 2013, at 7:21 AM, RandomMeaning wrote:

    The main problem is that Microsoft has chosen to apply the Windows Phone 08 UI to the desktop for strategic reasons which have nothing to do with improving things for the user. Microsoft is hoping that by forcing their very large base of desktop users to adjust to the Not-Metro interface, they will be more accepting of their Windows Phone efforts. Considering the anemic number of Nokia's Lumia phones being sold, must of which were older models at deep discounts or given away for free, this strategy has no positive effect on phone sales and a very negative effect on Microsoft's partners. Microsoft has the cash reserves to ride this out long enough to make changes. The damage it is doing to the OEMs is much worse. HP is trying to figure out how to reinvent themselves like IBM and get out of computers while Dell is reportedly trying to go private. Lenovo of China (which used to be IBM's computer division) is winning marketshare because they are willing to get by on ever thinner profits and undercutting everyone else. Acer and Asus are in open rebellion against Microsoft's leadership. As I recall from a recent report, Lenovo and Apple were the only companies who increased computer sales (not including tablets and iPads).

    For me, and I suspect many other long time users, the problem with Windows 08 is that it intrudes itself into the work flow even more than usual (Windows has always been something of a nag, demanding attention in different ways while you're getting your work done). And the unnecessary limitation of 2/3 and 1/3 screen instead of multiple windows is a deal breaker. It's another example of the supposed "freedom" of Windows being straight-jacketed by ridiculous limitations imposed by bad leadership. Only a marketing guy dreaming up ways to promote sales instead of how people actually use their computers would make these kinds of decisions.

  • Report this Comment On January 18, 2013, at 7:39 AM, RandomMeaning wrote:

    And add Intel to the list of Microsoft partners in decline. Revenues are down 6% yoy. Profits are down 27% (yikes!). Computer sales world wide are down around 5% this quarter.

  • Report this Comment On January 18, 2013, at 1:45 PM, NickD wrote:

    Intel just needs to focus on other gadgets pretty simple fix

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 1:14 PM, Elkriver101 wrote:

    Start8 is a great start button for Windows 8 but what was Microsoft thinking when you have to add a $4.99 start button to make Windows 8 useful?

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