Apparently a lot of people miss having the Start menu in Windows 8. SweetLabs’ Pokki app, which adds a Start menu and app launcher to the Windows 8 OS, has attracted 1.5 million downloads to date.

Pokki for Windows 8 launched back in mid-October and hit 500,000 downloads on Dec. 20. In just a few weeks, the app has tripled in popularity with 1.5 million downloads. And people are using it — SweetLabs said that users open the Start menu an average of 10 times a day.

“We think this is a decent indicator that Windows 8 users see value in having a Start menu, in particular our Start menu,” SweetLabs co-founder Chester Ng told VentureBeat. “When we launched the Pokki Start menu, we had the hypothesis that Windows 8 users would enjoy it more if they had easier access to their stuff. We’ve seen a tremendous uptake that validates that original hypothesis.”

Microsoft said that Windows 8 has sold 60 million licences to date, but we don’t know how many of those copies have been activated. Still, if all of those copies had been activated, Pokki would still have an incredible install base.

To celebrate the milestone, SweetLabs has updated Pokki with a refreshed interface and a brighter color scheme, which you can see in the photo above. The company said the app now has a more accurate search function. Ng puts the changes in two major categories:

  • The interface has had a facelift. — “It comes down to simply making it look better. We’re leading with a light color. It’s cleaner and more readable.”
  • There are more customization options. — “We’re giving users more control over their experience. For example, you can now replace the Pokki acorn icon with a Windows icon, which a lot of people were asking for. You can also disable hot corners.”

SweetLabs still has plans to monetize Pokki by offering paid apps that can be accessed from the app. Ng said that paid apps will likely be tested “some time this quarter.”

San Diego-based SweetLabs has more than 70 employees and has raised $21.5 million from investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, Google Ventures, Intel Capital, and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures.

Pokki via SweetLabs

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