In response to the backlash over the Windows 8 UI design, Lenovo is taking matters into its own hands.
All Lenovo Windows 8 machines worldwide will come preloaded with Pokki, an app that not only adds the traditional Windows start button but also includes an interface for launching apps that looks very much like an iPhone or Android home screen. SweetLabs, the San Diego developer that built Pokki, announced the deal in a blog post on its site.
The deal is reminiscent of the mobile industry in a couple ways.
Vendors making Android phones, for example, have long added their own skins and features to the OS as a way to differentiate their products. That meant they could try to stand out from the crowd through both hardware and software.
Lenovo appears to be following that strategy with Pokki. With Pokki installed, Lenovo users will have a machine that looks and works a bit different than stock Windows 8 machines.
Lenovo customers will see an acorn icon in the lower left hand corner when they’re in the desktop view. Clicking on it displays a menu that looks like the Windows 7 start button menu.
But it also pops up a grid of icons representing apps that users have downloaded. Users can arrange them how they like, much like they do on an iPhone or Android phone. It also displays the top four popular apps and lets users scroll through additional popular apps. Users can also download new apps directly from this screen.
That means the Pokki app store could replace the Windows 8 app store for some users who may prefer to interact with their apps and find new apps through the Pokki interface.
The move likely disappoints Microsoft for a few reasons. Microsoft has hoped to slowly transition users to its redesigned Windows 8 UI but with Pokki, users have more reason to stay in the desktop view. Not only can they shut down and navigate from the Pokki start button, they don’t even have to visit the updated Windows 8 design to open the app store.
The Pokki store could also make it easier for users to download desktop apps, since the Pokki store also supports desktop apps, giving users more reason to stay in the desktop view rather than try out the new Windows 8 UI.
Lenovo users aren’t the only ones that can use Pokki – anyone can download the app. But coming preloaded makes it far more likely that people will use it.
Also, Acer is preloading the app as well. But since Lenovo is now the top PC vendor in the world, this move is likely to catch Microsoft’s eye.