Microsoft: Don't call it Metro. Call it 'Windows 8'

Summary:Microsoft may go the simple route and replace 'Metro' with 'Windows 8,' my sources are saying.

After a seeming naming dispute with a European partner (cough...Metro Group... cough), Microsoft has decided to switch rather than fight over the name of its Metro design language.

metrodesignlanguage


The new substitute terminology upon which the Softies have decided is -- drum roll -- "Windows 8," according to my sources.

Here's the official guidance, my sources say: Anything currently/formerly known as a "Metro-Style application" (with or without a hyphen) will now be known officially as a "Windows 8 application." References to the "Metro user interface" will now be replaced by "Windows 8 user interface." And instead of saying "Metro design," the Softies and those adhering to their official guidelines will be using the words "Windows 8 design."

It looks as though some OEMs might have got the memo, too. Check out Lenovo's new promo page for its just-unveiled Windows 8 Thinkpad Tablet 2 (thanks to @Windows4Live for the pointer to this one). I've added an arrow to show where "Windows 8 Apps" are mentioned:

windows8apps

I asked Microsoft for comment on whether "Metro" officially is being replaced by "Windows 8" and have not received a response so far.

As late as even just a few days ago, some divisions at Microsoft were still trumpeting the word "Metro," using the Metro name to refer to the tiled interface with bold Segoe-font typographic elements that it has been honing since it rolled it out as part of Windows Media Center and Zune several years ago. It seems the many references to Microsoft Metro will be expunged, going forward (not sure if retroactively, too) in documents, packaging, web sites, books, training materials and more from Microsoft and partners.

When Microsoft introduced that same interface on Windows Phone, officials briefly referred to Metro as a codename. Since that time, no Microsoft official that I know of has called it a codename. Instead, Metro became a shorthand way to refer to the new look and feel -- and, in the case of applications, a way to refer to apps built using the new WinRT (Windows Runtime) programming interface that is part of Windows 8 and on tap to be part of Windows Phone (in the form of WinPRT).

What about Windows Phone, you may be wondering. After all, it was around the time of the Windows Phone 7 launch that Microsoft first made hay about its Metro philosophy, design and style. My contacts are hearing that Microsoft is going to use the same "Windows 8" naming conventions when talking about Windows Phone, going forward. So the Metro interface on Windows Phone is now known as the "Windows 8 interface" on Windows Phone.

I have no idea as to why Microsoft couldn't come to some kind of terms, monetary or otherwise, with Metro Group, identified in an internal e-mail as "an important European partner." Metro Group is one of the biggest retailers in the world, and,  I'm assuming, will figure in Microsoft's Windows 8 distribution plans.

Don't blame me if you don't like the new names; I just do the reporting here... But feel free to share your opinions below.

Update: On August 9, Tom Warren at The Verge published a post with a number of Microsoft references to "Modern" as a possible replacement for Metro. So does this mean "Windows 8" was just a temporary placeholder? Is Modern the new official term? Or is "Modern" meant to be used in specific instances and "Windows 8" when talking about apps? I don't know and Microsoft isn't talking.

Update No. 2: As a couple readers reminded me, "Modern" has been used in connection with Metro before. Remember "MoSH" -- the Modern Shell? That is how Microsoft internally referred inside to the Metro UI on Windows 8.

Topics: Windows, Legal, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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