Eric Johnson

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Full Pokki Suite Will Be Preloaded on All Lenovo PCs, With Native Windows App Support in Store

pokkiLenovo has agreed to preload onto all of its new PCs the full range of SweetLabs’ Pokki software, which tweaks the Windows operating system, the companies announced today.

The deal is the second major OEM partnership this summer for Pokki, which runs a platform for installing and using Windows apps, making the desktop experience feel more like a mobile one. Back in June, Acer began preloading a Pokki-powered game “arcade” onto all of its new PCs.

Today’s announcement is broader than that, though. Under the Pokki brand, SweetLabs makes the games launcher, a custom Start menu that launches apps via a mobile-esque interface, and an app store for discovering new apps. All of those products will be bundled together in the Lenovo deal.

That’s potentially a big deal for Windows developers who are having a hard time gaining traction. Baked into the Pokki suite is a recommendation engine, which surfaces new apps for users to download in visible places like the bottom of the start menu. Some of those recommendations are populated Netflix-style, targeted to users based on what they already use, which the software “learns” over time.

But other recommendations are sponsored, said Chester Ng, co-founder and chief marketing officer of SweetLabs. He pitches sponsored and targeted apps as a better alternative to the “outdated and irrelevant” crapware preloads that have historically padded the profits of OEMs like Lenovo. For example, a computer sold during tax season might have TurboTax automatically preloaded through the Pokki store, while one sold in the summer or fall would have no need for it.

In the past, the Pokki store has hosted desktop-optimized versions of Web apps like Facebook, Gmail and Hulu. SweetLabs is also announcing today that it will soon be possible to distribute native Windows and Windows 8 Store apps alongside Pokki-specific apps in the same store.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald