Lenovo to preload SweetLabs' Start menu, app store on Windows 8 PCs

Lenovo to preload SweetLabs' Start menu, app store on Windows 8 PCs

Summary: Lenovo will be preloading a Start Menu plus a new app store from SweetLabs on PCs and laptops, including its Idea and ThinkPad lines.


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.

Topics: Windows 8, Lenovo, Microsoft, PCs


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Really? More crapware?

    So much for my next laptop being a Lenovo unless I can get a signature edition at an MS store - sans the crapware.
    • Yea, more crapware!

      I recently installed W7 on a bootable VHD. Customizing the Start Menu was a nightmare! The new Start Screen is a beautiful thing. That said, I think we get enough computers with crapware on them. All this extra software does is slow computers down to a crawl, and open back doors for trojans, and corporate spying.
    • Crappedicrap

      Crapware is the primary reason I think RT is not dead yet.
  • Crapware

    These so called Start Button replacements are just new portals into getting other crap onto your PC. Before you know it your browser is hijacked and your information is being sold to the highest bidder.

    Vanilla Windows or bust.
    Dreyer Smit
  • Win 8.1

    With Win 8.1 there is no real need for the 'Start-Menu' the built-in stuff is way better.

    One app I would recommend is the Moderm-mix app from Stardock, which allows Metro apps to run in a Window. This can be handly at times and it will also allows metro apps to be pinned to the task bar.
    • OwlllllllNet Win 8.1 is only slightly better

      Lenovo to preload SweetLabs' Start menu, app store on Windows 8 PCs because their was a need to do so. With Metro style UI being a failure in its present form and MILLIONS tied up in Windows 8 they were forced to try and do something to increase sales.

      Maybe they didn't have $900,000,000.00 to take a bath with like Microsoft did, did you think of that? No I'm sure you didn't.
      Over and Out
      • Who? Who? — Get a clue, Owl!!!

        @ OwlllllllNet — I dunno if buying a whole-bunch of vowels might save you from makin' igno-rant remarks!

        Lenovo ALREADY installs their own "Start Menu" replacement, called "QuickLaunch" on WIN8 ThinkPads & ThinkStations! Besides, it's a simple utility that any competent programmer could knock out in an afternoon, without breakin' a sweat.

        Lenovo's decision to bundle SweetLabs crapware is entirely about "earning" kickback buck$. — Don't be looking for any of that to trickle-down to the customers, tho...
      • (More-than) Enough said...

        With apologies to "Owl…" My comment was intended for "Enough said" and those others who keep fueling this Start Menu idiocy!

        (Still think you could use some vowels, tho.)
      • Not a failure

        The metro style start menu is a success, unlike the people who complain about it.
        • Complete failure

          That's true for anything..either you like it or you don't, and the issue is that more dislike Metro than like it.
          Al Roberg
  • Good idea

    I believe others will follow...
  • Can you revert using Reset?

    Does Reset reset back to the actual vanilla Windows 8 or does it automatically re-include all the crapware?
    A Gray
    • Pretty sure that Reset gets you back to the sys-prepped image

      I.e, the one full of crapware. I'm looking for a new laptop (to buy in the next month). Buying a Sony directly from their web site includes an option to get it crapware free. It's enticing.
  • consumers

    Sounds like Lenovo is pushing into the consumer crapware market. The Tablet 3 is one of the top contenders for our next tablets. Now I have to make sure all of this is removable. We've been running Win 8 for two years, no need for this kind of crutch.
  • Just reformat

    I always reformat and reload so I can better set the environment, gets rid of all the crap.

    Almost anyone who uses Win8 for any period of time will forget the start button.
  • Pokki is not BAD as a Start menu...

    ...but not as good as my favorite, Stardock's "Start8" (which isn't free). Still, it's far better than what Windows 8.1 adds; and Pokki is far from crapware. It includes, for instance, the best desktop clients I've found for both Gmail and Google calendar. I only wish that SweetLabs would add support for Windows RT. Now that would be a help.
  • I am surprised this doesn't break the OEM agreement

    I can't imagine Microsoft lets them swap out the start menu as the out of the box config, or do you have to install it after?
    • Re: I am surprised this doesn't break the OEM agreement

      So what if it does? What is Microsoft going to do? Antagonize the last OEM it's got that is still making money from Windows, and drive it even deeper into the arms of Android?
  • The OEMs have some limitations, but not very many

    Since the anti-trust settlement, Microsoft has been very limited in what it can dictate to the OEMs. There are some features that Microsoft says "this has to be there for you to call it Windows", but otherwise, the OEMs can pollute their out-of-box experience almost to their hearts' content.
  • The beauty of Windows

    is that it allows OEMs and/or users the freedom to install apps like replacement start experiences. And it also allows me to uninstall that crud....or better yet buy the PC from a Microsoft Store and not have to do that at all. Freedom of choice is a good thing.