Updated: January 30, 2013
As you all know and unanimously agree, the Windows tiled interface, known as Metro, known as Modern UI and whatever, is not a friendly beast for users without touch devices. It goes against all the known and unknown paradigms of efficiency and productivity, and as such, must be removed.
Internal switches for disabling this nonsense are no more, but some third party tools allow you to skip the Start screen and go straight into your desktop. Better yet, various third-party tools also let you enjoy the classic menu. The most notable project is the Classic Shell, which returns sanity to sane people who only want to enjoy their computers. And now, there's another little utility, called Pokki Start Menu. We checked.
The name is silly, but the program seems quite decent. The installation is very simple. You grab the basic downloader, and then it will retrieve all its files from the server, so you do need an Internet connection when setting up Pokki.
Once installed, you gain a little icon where the Start menu button was supposed to be, and this will open a dark-gray dominated menu somewhat like the old stuff, but not quite.
You can check your favorites, browse all apps, go into the Control Panel, access your documents, as well as browse and install various apps from the Pokki App Store, so it's not just a shell replacement, it's an entire bundle, also designed to entice you to try and buy various other Pokki products.
I found the notion of offering me apps, including stupidities like Angry Turds and Facebook contrary to the logic of having a classic start menu installed. After all, if I want these silly apps, then I am probably using the Modern UI, perhaps on a tablet, and then I sure do not need your menu. On the other, if I'm on a desktop, why the hell would I want to install silly apps?
Never mind all that, let's explore some more. Anyhow, here are a few more screenshots of the menu, with its various sub-categories. If, at all times, and for some weird reason, you do feel like going back to your stupid tiled interface, you can click the little grid icon near the Shut Down option, and this will flip your desktop.
The search function is also quite decent, plus you get Web suggestions, which you can turn off if you don't like them. My recommendation is to turn them off, so you do not forward your private queries to the Pokki servers. Much like the Amazon drama in Ubuntu.
Going back to apps, if you really must, and you do not like the Microsoft store or you seem incapable of downloading software on your own, then you can use the Pokki store. On a first glance, most of the stuff looks rather trivial and socially oriented. So perhaps the project does cater mostly to less knowledgeable users and whatnot.
Right-click on the Pokki button, and you can open the settings menu, which lets you configure the system behavior. You can enable or disable the so-called charms and hot corners, decide whether you wish to boot directly to your desktop, use the sidebar, the aforementioned Web results, and more. Flexible and simple.
If you ask me, Classic Shell is the way to go. It's a simple, no-nonsense fix for the integral stupidity of Windows 8. Moreover, the project does not try to sell you anything, does not try to get you onboard the useless apps train, and does not try to sell you a social replacement for a social disaster. Free, GPL, all that.
Regardless, Pokki seems like a decent refuge for confused and lost Windows users, who just want their Start menu back. And if they don't mind some extras, like the ability to install all kinds of programs, some extra Web searches and alike, then Pokki is a suitable replacement, adorned with a fair degree of simplicity and elegance. Plus, most importantly, it does offer the needed core functionality and does not impair your productivity.
You should definitely try it. For purists though, Classic Shell is the answer.