We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Utilities software Reviews
15,670 Reviews

Pokki review


Manufacturer: Pokki

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Want to put the Start menu back into Windows 8 in an interesting way? Try Pokki. Here's our Pokki review.


With a simple Start menu that pulls results from the Web and painless installation of apps, Pokki offers a better way to enjoy Windows 8.

The death of the Start menu is way up there on my personal list of modern tech tragedies and epic Microsoft blunders. It's almost as egregious as Microsoft Bob, but not as funny. Fortunately, there's no lack of ways to bring it back, from traditional-looking applications such as Classic ShellStart8 and StartMenuPlus8 to bolder reimaginings such as Pokki, a free start menu and app store that shows what Windows 8 might have been. See also: Add Start Menu to Windows 8.

First and foremost, it's a Start menu. Click the button or tap the Windows key on your keyboard, Pokki displays a list of applications that doesn't take over your entire screen. Start typing, and potential applications instantly pop up, alongside custom Pokki apps and real-time results from the Web (something the traditional Start menu doesn't offer). The default theme is light, and the whole thing feels nice and airy.

Pokki's search is useful, but it isn't perfect: Apps from the Pokki store are highlighted (even if you've decided you don't want to install them), and there is no way to mix documents from your local hard drive into the search results. Web results are quick to appear, but they tend to be too general. There is no way to search a specific website, such as YouTube.

Pokki review: apps

Now, about those apps: These used to be the core of the Pokki experience, back when Windows still had a Start button. Now, they're there mainly to offer added value. It feels like Pokki does want you to know about them and install them, but it isn't overly pushy about it (except for prominently featuring them in search results). Being subtle about a new breed of apps is exactly the sort of thing that could have won Windows 8 some points, and Pokki gets it right.

Apps range from games like Cut the Rope and Plants vs. Zombies, to front-ends for Web tools like Google Calendar, Google Reader, and Instagram. They're built in top of instances of the Chromium Web browser, and aren't always customized: The Google Calendar app, for example, shows just what you'd see if you opened a new browser tab and point it at Google Calendar. Pokki's Instagram client, called Instagrille, has a compelling and original interface that works well.

The store is divided into categories such as Art and Design, Games, Photography, and more. You can either browse for interesting finds, or search for an app by name. Searching for common services like YouTube often yields more than one app, so you can pick and choose one that looks right for you. Each app comes with a description, screenshots, and ratings--just what you'd expect from an app store, basically.

Thankfully, neither store nor apps take over your entire screen like Modern apps do. They feel like a different take on Windows, but play with the existing windows far better than Microsoft's Modern interface does.

Pokki review: settings

Pokki's Settings panel is concise and simple, and it doesn't overwhelm you with a multitude of options. You can toggle between a light and dark theme, skip the Windows Start screen when logging in, and even decide whether or not you want the Windows key on your keyboard to open the Pokki menu.

Pokki executed a subtle pivot, shifting from an app store with a launcher to a launcher with an app store. On the whole, I would say it works. I'd love for the search feature to be better, but if you're looking for a richer Start menu replacement than Classic Shell, you should definitely try it out. You might stumble on an amazing Pokki-exclusive app or two in the process.

Pokki Expert Verdict »

Windows XP/Vista/7/8
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

Pokki shows the Windows 8 that might have been. And it's free. Definitely worth a look.

  • 4K Stogram review

    4K Stogram

    4K Stogram takes an Instagram username and downloads their photo feed in one fell swoop.

  • Instagram Explorer for Windows 8 review - Instagram app for Windows 8

    Instagram Explorer for Windows 8 - Instagram app for Windows 8

    Instagram Explorer for Windows 8 offers a free and easy way to browse Instagram when you're using Windows 8. Here's our Instagram Explorer for Windows 8 review.

  • Windows 8.1 review: improved but still an OS of two halves

    Windows 8.1: improved but still an OS of two halves

    The free update to Windows 8.1 addresses many of the problems users had with Windows 8, but it still feels like an operating system at war with itself. Here's our in-depth review. UPDATED: 28th February 2014

  • Tweeki review


    Tweeki is a simple Twitter client with a gorgeous yet simple interface. It has a few limitations and it's best used on just one account. Here's our Tweeki review.

  • Facebook Camera: Hands on

    Facebook Camera: Hands on

    Facebook famously bought Instagram for $1 billion and then launched its own similar Facebook Camera app. We get hands on with Facebook Camera and find out what it's all about.

IDG UK Sites

Android M Developer Preview announced at Google I/O: Android M UK release date and new features. Wh?......

IDG UK Sites

Why I think the Apple Watch sucks and you'd be mad to buy it

IDG UK Sites

Ben & Holly's Game of Thrones titles spoof is delightfully silly

IDG UK Sites

Mac OS X 10.11 release date rumours: all the new features expected in Yosemite successor