The first thing you’ll notice missing upon switching to Windows 8 is the familiar Start Menu, which has now been replaced with the Start Screen. Although the new design looks much prettier, many users have found the transition to be fairly unintuitive when compared to the old Start Menu. Back in October 2012, we covered Pokki for Windows 8 that aimed to bring back the start menu while allowing you to install a plethora of Pokki web apps. The application has seen millions of installations, and has now been updated with a few awesome new features, an all new light theme, and the ability to use Windows logo as Start Menu icon.
The first change you’ll notice in the update is refreshing look. The new light-colored theme looks quite captivating to say the least, but if you want the previous dark theme back, you can switch to it from the Settings menu. The rest of the design feels more or less the same, though you can now customize the shortcuts in the left sidebar as well. In addition, font sizes and spacing between different elements have also been tweaked for better readability.
The developers have also squeezed the menu horizontally by separating the notification bar from rest of the UI. The notifications for Pokki apps, such as Facebook or Twitter, can now be accessed from the drop down menu at the top-right. The search bar has also been reworked from the ground up according to the developers, making search results quicker and more accurate.
You still get the same banner notifications for activity from your installed Pokki web apps including Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Instagrille and many more. These notifications now reflect the theme you’ve chosen, keeping the entire user experience of the app consistent.
In the previous version, I was quite disappointed to find that Pokki won’t allow me to add custom shortcuts to the Favorites list. This issue has also been addressed in this update, as you can now add any file or folder to the Pokki menu. Simply right-click the item that you want to add, and select Add to Pokki Menu.
Previously, the All Apps menu displayed shortcuts only for executable files, limiting its functionality compared to the All Programs list found in the default Windows 7 Start Menu. This has also been addressed in this update, and now the All Apps menu shows shortcuts for all entries including executable files, folders, and any other file types, just the same way as the Windows 7 Start Menu’s All Programs list.
Changes have also been made to the Pokki Settings panel. You can now set the Windows logo as the start menu logo, replacing the old Pokki acorn logo. There’s an all new settings called Sidebar Shortcuts, which allows displaying or removing various system icons such as Computer, Control Panel, Administrative tools etc. in the sidebar. You can also toggle the display of recently used apps in the menu. Lastly, the Theme section allows you to choose between the old dark theme and the new light one.
In addition to all these new features and improvements, several bugs have also been fixed in the update. The complete list of changes and bug fixed can be seen in the press release link at the download page. Pokki works on both 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8, while the start menu replacement is available only in the Windows 8 version. Testing was carried out on Windows 8 Pro, 64-bit.