Microsoft Design Language: The newest official way to refer to 'Metro'

Microsoft Design Language: The newest official way to refer to 'Metro'

Summary: Microsoft has published its Build 2012 developer conference session list, a day before the show is set to kick off. And 'Microsoft Design Language' mentions are all over it.


Microsoft published to the Web the session and speaker list for its Build 2012 developer conference, a day before the show is set to kick off in Redmond.


(Thanks to @lancewmccarthy for the tip.)

The biggest revelation I've seen from the newly published information so far is that Microsoft officials are now using "Microsoft Design Language" as the newest way to refer to the design language and tiled style formerly known as "Metro."

I had a number of my Twitter chums tell me in the past couple of weeks that Microsoft was now using "Microsoft Design Language" as the replacement for Metro, but a Microsoft spokesperson would not confirm, when I asked, that this was the official new lingo. (I believe Brent Schooley was the first to tell me Microsoft Design Language was the final replacement on which the Softies had decided.) I guess Microsoft's use of it on the Build 2012 site is as close as we'll get to an "official" confirmation.

Microsoft Design Language seems to be the way to refer to the look and feel/UX, but it isn't the replacement for what formerly was known as "Metro-Style" -- meaning applications built around the WinRT application programming interface (API). Metro-Style's replacement is "Windows Store," as in "Netflix has built a Windows Store app for Windows 8."

Microsoft officials never did publicly acknowledge the reason that the company decided to drop all references to "Metro" was due to a spat with German conglomerate Metro AG, but that is widely believed to be the reason Microsoft execs are phasing out public use of the term. Microsoft officials have only said that "Metro" was a codename never intended for external/public use. (Yeah, I'm just the messenger. I don't believe that, either.)

Besides the new name for Metro, the Build schedule includes mentions of many sessions focused on building apps for Windows 8. There's a session focused on Casablanca, which is a Microsoft incubation effort to "bring C++ to the cloud." There's another focused on "Project Austin," the C++ team's effort to resurrect Microsoft's "Courier" software. There are a couple of sessions on building line-of-business apps for Windows 8.

There are several sessions where "reading" is the topic. Microsoft officials are on tap to talk up the reading/publishing experiences built for Windows 8 in these talks. Microsoft's Office team is believed to be working on some kind of "active reading" application, possibly in conjunction with Barnes & Noble. It's not clear whether this application will be detailed at Build.

There are also a couple of sessions on "Windows Store device apps," which are defined as apps that allow showcasing of devices. Visual Studio 2012, TypeScript/JavaScript, Windows Azure's infrastructure as a service componenets and the coming "Napa" tools for Office are all on the Build 2012 agenda, as well.

Topics: Windows, Cloud, Microsoft, Software Development


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • I like the Microsoft Design Language name.

    Now what would google name it once they steal it?
    Ram U
    • Re: Now what would google name it once they steal it?

      "Microsoft Design Language" already seems plenty bad enough.
      • if they dont feel compulsion of copying and like the design language

        why would they do this? check this year's Google IO.
        Ram U
        • The idiocy...

          Oh yes, they are "Stealing" the metro design. Forget all the times Microsoft have stolen designs. Forget all the times Apple has done so as well. Cause this is about Google this time.
          • Right

            Because GOOGLE has not stolen anything either...
          • I notice

            that you have no rebuttal for them stealing beyond "others are doing it too"
            Michael Alan Goff
        • LOL

          But the problem is, Microsoft didn't invent "Metro" at all. They copied it from Unix world and many design web sites as well. Heck, even a AOL had "Metro" at 90's in their web sites!

          Even youtube had "Metro" before Microsoft even had shown Windows Phone 7.0!

          And now suddenly, after Apple "owns rounded rectangles" people are saying Microsoft "owns rectangles".

          Well then "Android owns circles" and you can all go to say women breast is infiring Android Inc (now Google) circles!
          • extra

            Oh, and Microsoft got patent for idea what one Nokia fan made before Microsoft even send application for that patent!


            So right now someone needs to go from Microsoft to sue that Nokia fan to court because he just happened to make a one of many prior arts for Microsoft patents!
          • well

            you are totally clueless, Nokia and Microsoft are in agreement to use each other's patents, if Live Cubes is patent of Nokia, then be it, Microsoft has full rights to use it because of the agreement. Now show where does Google have rights to use others patents.
            Ram U
          • Learn to read

            Tell me, where in my post for what you reply I mentioned "Nokia"?

            Yeah, that's right. I didn't even mention Nokia at all.
            And the continued post (reply to myself) I mentioned a Nokia _fan_ made mockups _before_ Microsoft even went and stole that idea from _FAN_. Nokia didn't have anything to do with that either than that one person being Fan of Nokia.

            ps. Because you have so much insights about Nokia and Microsoft partnership agreement, please show us others where it say that Microsoft can use all Nokia patents as its own and where it says Nokia can use all Microsoft patents as its own? And where it says that anything what Nokia invents _after_ agreement, Microsoft has access to it as well? Can you please email a copy to for me of that Nokia Microsoft agreement?
          • since you asked for it

            Ram U
          • Now you just sound like Todd Akin

            thanks for playing
            Ram U
          • extra

            let google go and sue all the women or the creation of Universe.
            Ram U
          • Hah

            Which one came first, google or Microsoft or was it [question] after all women or egg? ;)
    • Straight Forward

      It's certainly not the worst name they've come up with, but just once I'd like them to come up with a FUN name for something... that actually catches on.

    Metro > Windows 8 Style > Modern UI > Microsoft Design Language ?

    Microsoft, Really?

    You had good "Metro" brand already coming and then you go and you take 2-3 week "temporal" brand so you can come up with "Modern UI" brand and now you are going to throw it away after 2 months for "Microsoft Design Language"?


    No.... Don't say it.... Steve Ballmer?
    • Naming chaos in Redmond

      "You just can't make this stuff up."
    • yes

      So many good developers in Microsoft, and so bad branding and strategy... Couldn't they pay something to that german company or buy it directly?
    • Not so fast.

      Microsoft didn't come up with "Modern UI", we all speculated that they did. That's not their fault, it's our fault. We misconstrued when they were talking about "Modern Apps" which has nothing to do with what is being called "Microsoft design style" or "Microsoft design language" now.
  • Metro AG cannot be the cause

    I can't see a chain of stores from Germany having any effect on a naming Microsoft had chosen worldwide.

    I live in Canada, Québec and here we've got the subway system called referred to as metro, a chain of grocery stores called Metro, a free newspaper called Metro and none of them complains the other uses the same name and we don't have difficulty differentiating them either, so another thing called Metro wouldn't have changed that perception.

    The rule for branding is I think that if the two companies/trademarks are not in the same business/domain there cannot be confusion... I wouldn't see a chain of stores in Germany being confused with a software on a computer just like we don't confuse our three Metros in Canada.