Sorry, Microsoft: Users really want the Start menu back

Startup Pokki points to swelling demand for third-party Windows 8 add-ons as proof that users miss the Start menu

Though Microsoft's new Windows head, Julie Larson-Green, would have us believe users are acclimating to navigating Windows 8 despite the absent Start menu, startup Pokki -- one of many companies that has developed an add-on Start menu for the OS -- begs to differ: The company claims its homegrown Windows 8 menu has been downloaded more than 500,000 times and customers are using it on average 10 times per day.

"In the six weeks following the launch of Windows 8, Pokki itself saw half a million downloads of our Start menu, Stardock sold tens of thousands of copies of Start8, and it took only 30 days for 30 different Start menu replacements to come to market," according to a new Pokki blog entry. "All of which is early proof of our original hypothesis that people need, want, and use the Start menu more than ever."

To recap, Microsoft said its decision to kill the Start menu in Windows 8, which is fashioned for both traditional PCs and tablets, was multifaceted: The company claimed that few people actually used the Start menu, the growing size of menus was becoming a logistical problem, modern UI apps and the classic Start menu don't have a way to talk to each other, and most crucial, the old Start menu wasn't optimized for touch interfaces.

Pokki offered a trove of data to support its assertion that Windows users aren't ready to compute in a world without a Start menu, citing a tripling of Google searches for "Windows 8 start menu" since November and the availability of 30 different third-party Start menus just 30 days after the Windows 8 launch.

In terms of usage, Pokki reported that adopters accessed the Start menu 10 times per day on average, primarily for shortcuts and power options. (On average, the use Windows 8 search about 2.5 times per day.)

In an effort to illustrate the Windows 8 Start Screen's lack of appeal, Pokki claimed that 11 percent of users disabled all hot corners on the new Start Screen, 21 percent set their machines to boot to the Desktop, 26 percent enable Windows to leave the Modern UI (formerly known as Metro) in favor of the Desktop view, and 27 percent disable the left hot corner.

Despite pooh-poohing Microsoft's decision to nix the Start menu, Pokki insists it has the Redmond giant's best interests at heart: "We are Windows fanboys/girls (yes, they exist) and want to help make sure it succeeds. From the moment the Start button was removed to the moment we witnessed (and captured) mainstream folks off the streets trying Windows 8 without it, we knew it was our job to bring back the Start menu functionality," according to the post.

This story, "Sorry, Microsoft: Users really want the Start menu back," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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