Will 'normal' Windows users want a Start button for Win 8?

Readers of this site — other than my mum (hi, mum!) — are most likely not normal, regular users. Sorry, but you/we are not.

"Normal" users are people who get their work (and play) done on Windows, but who are not techies or those who write about them. They are the people who are not likely to have done any real testing of Windows 8 so far. And they are the people who are either going to love or hate Windows 8 when they get to use it in retail stores for the first time next week.

They are the "regular" people, like Lockergnome's Chris Pirillo's dad — a video of him attempting to use a test build of Windows 8 went viral. Whether you consider Pirillo's video a page-view stunt or not (I am in the "not" camp), you might want to check out another video of his that was created in conjunction with start-up SweetLabs.

This time, Pirillo captured the reactions of various folks in the University District area of Seattle last month who got to try Windows 8 for their first time. These users were checking it out on laptops with keyboards. Their reactions run from interest, to puzzlement, to nervous laughter (in the case of one woman who identified herself as an admin and is quite conversant with Windows).

Check it out:

What's SweetLabs' interest/involvement here?

The start-up, which is backed by both Google Ventures and Intel Capital, makes a product called Pokki. It's an app store for Windows 8 desktop/PC users that allows users to download and run "hundreds" of custom-built apps, some written by SweetLabs and others from third-party developers, on Windows 8.

The app store part of SweetLabs' mission is totally uninteresting to me, as I'd think it would be to many other Windows users who don't really need more games, entertainment and other basic apps for Windows 8.

But SweetLabs is also introducing, as of today, a new version of Pokki for Windows 8, which includes a re-imagined (yes, I went there) Start menu and button for Windows 8.

(Credit: SweetLabs)

There are other Start button add-ons for Windows 8 already, including Classic Shell and Stardock's Start8 (it also looks like Samsung is going to offer a downloadable Start Menu option for its Windows 8 laptops, too). Pokki offers another way to make Windows 8 more familiar and useable to the casual/normal Windows user. It's not just your Windows 7 Start menu pasted onto Windows 8.

Pokki for Windows 8, a free downloadable application, includes the so-called Pokki Menu. People can just use the menu and not the app store, if they so choose, populating the menu with apps already installed on their PCs. The Pokki Menu also includes a centralised notification centre, an iPhone/Android smartphone-like home screen for organising apps, and an app recommendation service.

As I've said before, while I think a Start Button-free Windows 8 and Windows RT are fine for touch tablets, I'm not sold on the new Microsoft interface on PCs, desktops and laptops. And yes, your mileage may vary. We all use our PCs differently. Choice is good, people.

It should be very interesting to see what the "normals" think of Windows 8, starting next week. If you're the kind of person intrigued by the new and unfamiliar, you might love it. If you're in the who-moved-my-cheese camp — or the Office Ribbon Haters Club — you may not. I'm hoping we see something good when it comes to whatever brochure-ware Microsoft and its partners will (I'm hearing) make available with new Windows 8 PCs, to help familiarise users with all the new gestures, shortcuts and navigational changes.

Via CNET.com



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