Lenovo will be preloading a Start Button/Start Menu from SweetLabs on new PCs it ships worldwide, starting with its Windows 8 consumer laptops and PCs.
SweetLabs announced Lenovo partnership deal on August 22. In addition to including the SweetLabs "modern Start menu" on its PCs, Lenovo also will be preloading the rest of SweetLabs' Pokki suite, which includes its app store and game arcade. Lenovo joins Acer (which preloads the Pokki game arcade) and Toshiba (which promotes online the Pokki Start menu) as SweetLabs' OEM preload partners.
Lenovo will preload Pokki first on its Idea line (IdeaPad, IdeaCentre) of products, starting in "the next couple of weeks," SweetLabs officials said. Some Lenovo ThinkPads also will be preloaded with Pokki at a later, unspecified date. SweetLabs execs said plans call for a ramp up "once Windows 8.1 is out this holiday season."
SweetLabs is one of a handful of vendors which has attempted to make Windows 8 more usable by providing users with a more familiar Start Button/Start Menu element.
While Windows 8.1 will include a Start Button and a revamped app store, the updated version of Windows 8 won't provide users with a Start Menu or the ability to download desktop apps directly from the Windows Store. SweetLabs is looking to provide those missing pieces.
Chester Ng, the co-founder of SweetLabs, said the company has seen "tens of millions" of downloads of its Pokki products on Windows 8 to date. Ng said SweetLabs' app distribution capability is "how we help OEMs make more money." Ng said the Pokki app store offers OEMs an alternative to the current app-trial/preload model (better known by many of us as "crapware.")
SweetLabs also announced today that the OEM version of Pokki is now supporting distribution of multiple app types, plus support for 13 languages, including German, Portuguese and Russian. The Pokki app store provides users with the ability to download traditional PC desktop apps; Web and social apps, like Facebook and Gmail; "unique" Pokki-specific versions of apps like Instagram and a Twitter desktop app known as Tweeki; as well as Windows Store/Metro-Style apps.
"In the future, we might even be open to Chrome apps," said Ng.