While I’ve personally become accustomed to the new Start UI as a replacement for the traditional Start Menu, it seems that a large number of Windows 8 users are unwilling to let go and move on.

Stardock has now announced that it has had 3 million downloads since the commercial launch of its Start8, which sets users back $4.99 and offers a “full featured” start menu experience.

Alongside the Start8 download announcement, Stardock also announced that their first major update to the program has now arrived. Version 1.1 features include adding drag and drop support, ability to rearrange items inside the all programs tree and more.

Interestingly enough, SweetLabs also announced that its free Windows 8 start menu replacement, Pokki, has hit 1.5 million downloads and took the time to show off a major new version.

Alright so 4.5 million might not seem like TONS when you consider that Microsoft has sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses, but let’s think this through.

First, Pokki and Start8 together achieved 4.5 million downloads, but there are MANY more free and even commercial start replacements out there, so the number is likely much higher than that.

Second, Microsoft might have SOLD 60 million licenses, but we know that many of these licenses are to OEMs and aren’t in the hands of consumers just yet.

Finally, there is also a reasonable number of Windows 8 devices out there that DO have touchscreens, because they are either touch ultrabooks, convertibles, hybrids or tablets. A start menu replacement doesn’t make as much sense in these environments.

So what does this all mean?

Honestly, I like Windows 8’s new UI, but it is obvious that there are a number of folks that aren’t willing to give it a try. I could be wrong, but I have a strong feeling that many of these “start menu downloaders” never even spent more than a few minutes with the Start UI before deciding to bring back the old start menu through a 3rd party app.

Seems kind of silly in a way, because many of these apps are resource hogs and kind of detracts from the improved speed found with Windows 8.

So is this announcement doom and gloom? Not necessarily. As apps continue to arrive and people start to want these apps even on their desktops, they might change their minds and give the Start UI a try again (or really give it their first real try).

Its WAY too early to say that the new Start UI is a total failure, at this point it is simply ‘misunderstood’ I suppose. Do you use a Windows Start Menu replacement? If so, which one and why? For those desktop/laptop users that have stuck with the Start UI can you even imagine going back to the start menu now?

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  • Rex

    I think you can safely add the bought licenses, but I think you should be careful in adding the free licenses. The reason is simple, users try free licenses of multiple vendors and then select the one they like best. Even those that bought licenses may have previously used free versions and were not completely satisfied and therefore thought a more commercial version could be better.

    • Andrew_Grush

      Very good point, Rex. Honestly, didn’t even think about the fact that many users tried a few different ones before either sticking with Start UI or settling on one. Thanks for commenting.

  • WillyThePooh

    I actually use the new UI more often than the desktop. It’s actually better after I group them properly. My favorites are all right in front of me in the first screen. So I don’t need to scroll screen after screen like what other people complain.

    • Andrew_Grush

      I personally still use the desktop more, but I think that the Start UI can be quite useful as well. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  • Darin

    You make an assumption that people aren’t willing to give the new UI a try. What if instead they did give it a try and after a week or so decided it wasn’t to their liking and wanted start menu back?

    • Andrew_Grush

      Very good point. Thanks for commenting, Darin! 🙂

  • Christopher Tranter

    You haven’t covered all bases here. I’m a developer, i’ve used windows since 3.11 and currently my work/home environment is made up of Windows 7 machines. After extensive testing and use (i cloned and upgraded my home machine to win8) I see no reason why the start menu needed to change. But fair enough, I thought, i’ll give this new version a go.

    For years, the windows UI refinements were all about reducing clicks and creating a fluid experience. In Windows 8, there are more actions required to do what Windows 7 does in a small panel and the experience involves switching back and forth to an ugly, ill fitting start menu that doesn’t appear fluid in the desktop environment at all. I’m struggling to understand how anyone with decent windows desktop experience can see this as progression. I’ve tried and tried and transitioning to and from the desktop/metro interface all the time is jarring and distracting.

    I have a licence for Start8. The windows 8 desktop experience is repaired. However, i ended up booting windows 7 and haven’t been near windows 8 since. I always considered myself to be fully “Windows”. Windows 8 has derailed me as a desktop user. I will buy a Surface or similar in the future and will embrace the new Modern interface on that device, without question as it’s a touch interface, made for touch devices. It has no place on my desktop unless I willingly want to fire it up.

    I’m at a total loss over this start menu thing. I really don’t understand why it can’t be optional for the user.

    • Andrew_Grush

      I have learned to use the Start UI– BUT I agree that users shouldn’t have had to. It should have been a choice for users without touchscreens. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  • Dan Dar3

    Nope, don’t miss the start menu. In fact, I barely use the going-down-left-corner to show the start menu, I mostly use the Windows key with my left hand since my right hand is busy with the mouse and it would be quite a bit of travelling, start menu or no start menu. Now, if you are are right hand user though…

    In fact I quite like the new Start screen – I surprised to see though that most new Windows 8 users I met didn’t think of simply typing to search for an application, so maybe that’s lost on a lot of home users out there, maybe Microsoft should have put that in the startup introduction tutorial thing. Once you know that and see it in action, I’d say you might be less likely to want the Start menu back.

    I guess another reason some people might like the Start menu back is the easy shutdown access – I don’t miss that either since I usually configure my power profile settings to hibernate on power button or lid close, so I can do that very easily anyways.

    I think this will eventually blow over, and Microsoft probably thinks the same – it’s new, some people get on with the change, some don’t, some will learn easier way to handle with the changes (we all love to give tips to other family members, right? :-), other’s won’t, some will continue to like bitching about it, I guess that’s life.

    Do I think Microsoft should allow for some registry or policy setting to bring the Start menu (or a variation of it) back for these folks? Sure, if technically possible, let’s do it. Do I think they’ll do it soon or at all? Doubt it though…

    • Andrew_Grush

      Very well said, Dan Dar3. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  • SouthPark

    WillyThePooh, I prefer the UI too, and it looks promising, as updates are to come!

  • http://www.facebook.com/anna.mccullough.54 Anna McCullough

    I DO miss the Start button, but not enough to worry about downloading a software replacement. I do agree that users should have been given a choice – “Metro or Classic”, for example – as I almost never click on any of the Metro tiles anyway except “desktop”!

  • timiteh

    Well, according to me some of the main problems with Start Screen regarding desktop apps are:

    * Lack of customizations especially in term of tiles size, in order to use it as a true dashboard

    * Unability to use folders or an equivalent to better organize tiles

    * Poor handling of Desktop apps tiles. The Tile could at least show the number of instances of the app and provide visual shortcut to each instance

    * Unability to display it in a windows

    * Unability to use it in split mode
    * Flat and Ugly U.I

    As long as Microsoft will not fix most of these problems, i don’t think that people would stop to use applications such as Start 8 or my favorite Retro UI.