Redmond, Washington -- Almost two years after labeling its design language “Metro,” software maker Microsoft over the weekend abruptly abandoned the phrase “Metro style” it has been using to describe the new environment and apps in both Windows 8 and Windows RT before its official debut in October, the company confirmed Friday.
In fact, the root cause of swapping out the simple “Metro,” the tile-based interface will now -- and according to online reports, forever -- be known as “Windows 8 style UI,” as it appears to be a potential trademark dispute with Metro AG, a major German retailer. But though the “Metro” moniker may seem to be a metro-sized headache for Microsoft, the software giant claims it was just a code name all along.
“We have used Metro style as a code name during the product development cycle across many of our product lines. As we get closer to final launch and transition from industry dialog to a broad consumer dialog we will use our commercial names,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said in a statement today.
News of the change was first reported by The Verge, which stated that Microsoft instructed developers to stop using the “Metro” name on Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps because of a dispute over the name.
But now, Microsoft appears to be getting rid of the name completely. According to The Verge, a tipster disclosed an internal memo from Microsoft that explained to employees the change was a result of “discussions with an important European partner” that forced Microsoft to “discontinue the use” of the Metro brand.
As a matter of fact, this news comes just a few days after the company's successful launch of it new email service Outlook.com, during which Microsoft touted its clean, Metro-style design.
“It is not really a big issue,” said Scott Steinberg, principal analyst for TechSavvy Global. “Whether it was a code name is irrelevant at this point.”
Admittedly, this statement rings false. Microsoft first starting charging up the “Metro” design when it first introduced Windows Phone 7 back in October 2010, and it has been using the word to describe Windows 8 for a long while as well. On a Microsoft tutorial page that is still available (wonder how fast this will be taken down), here is Microsoft's official description of Metro per Windows Phone 7:
Amazingly, at the Windows 8 Consumer Preview launch in Barcelona earlier this year, Microsoft distributed a product guide that included a brief section on Metro style app principles.
“More than just an app platform, Metro style is a design philosophy that helps you build attractive, easy-to-use apps that will delight your customers with their intuitive and common interaction model,” the guide said.
In addition, some of the common principles associated with Metro-type apps, according to Microsoft, include: fast and fluid; support for multiple states; support for the right contracts; live tiles; and settings and data that roam through the cloud.
Nevertheless, Microsoft does not want to admit that it is giving up the name over a silly expensive naming dispute, so it is saying Metro was a “code name” all along. If that makes you feel better, we understand, Microsoft. And so long, Metro!