A good chunk of the brave users who upgraded to Microsoft's new Windows 8 experience since November miss the Start Menu, with 1.5 million having now downloaded Pokki, just one of the many Start Menu replacements out there. And that may be a lot bigger chunk than Microsoft will let on. That's up from half a million just a month ago, before the holiday season, when presumably a lot of people got new Windows 8-compatible devices. Of course, Pokki offers just one of the many Start Menu supplements for Windows 8. Just yesterday, one mournful Windows user, Ars Technica's Peter Bright, outlined four other ways to make Windows look more like it used to. Just as early adopters warned, Windows 8 without Start is confusing. So confusing that people have gone out of their way to bring it back.
While those 1.5 million Pokki downloaders might not sound like a lot in comparison to the supposed 60 million Windows 8 licenses that Microsoft claims to have sold as of last week, the Start Menu substitutes actually constitutes a bigger slice of Windows 8 users, because total licenses don't represent total users. The "licenses sold" figure also includes licensees bought by computer manufacturers for machines that have not yet been purchased. PC sales this holiday season dropped 4.9 percent from last year, in part because of Windows 8 and its confusing Start-less interface, according to Gartner. So, there are far fewer than 60 million Windows 8 users out there.
Microsoft doesn't make finding actual user numbers easy. Ballmer claimed 4 million people had upgraded to the new operating system, three days after launch. And then we have all the people who bought new machines. A bunch of PC makers told Wired's Alexandra Chang they are "almost" meeting expectations. Analysts put Surface tablet sales at around 1 million, reports The New York Times's Brian X. Chen. So, there are probably 10s of millions of Windows 8 users. Just not 60 million. Millions of people miss the Start menu enough to have taken the time and done something about it. And then let's not forget all the lazy people who just complain about the void on the Internet.