Ever since acknowledging that they'd be phasing out usage of the "Metro" name, Microsoft officials have offered a steady diet of no comments whenever any of us asked what we should use instead.
This week, however, there's finally a bit of naming clarity, courtesy of Soma Somasegar, the Corporate Vice President of the Developer Division at the company.
Microsoft has been playing up its Metro design language/philosophy as the crux around which its future product design revolves. In early August, Microsoft abruptly put the brakes on external usage of the term, declining to provide reasons why -- beyond saying Metro was meant to be just a codename.
On September 12, as part of its Visual Studio 2012 virtual launch, Microsoft execs are talking up "modern app development." So, is "modern" Microsoft's new substitute for Metro?
"Modern apps" is a sweeping term that mean apps that work on connected devices and make use of continuous services," said Somasegar during a phone interiew I had with him before today's VS 2012 launch. VS 2012 is Microsoft's premiere tool set for developing modern apps, according to Microsoft's latest positioning.
One type of modern app is what used to be called a "Metro-style" app, meaning an application developed using Microsoft's WinRT application programming interface, which will be eligible to be sold through the Windows 8 app store.
The new official name for these Metro-style apps, according to Somasegar, is "Windows Store" apps. Rafael Rivera from Within Windows said he thought this would be the name once he looked at the Visual Studio 2012 RTM code back on August 7. Looks like Rivera was right on the money.
Microsoft is slowly but surely substituting references to Metro-Style apps with Windows Store apps across its own Web sites. This is a move that will take some time given how many references already exist across Microsoft's own sites, Somasegar acknowledged.
So is Microsoft is going to start referring to the Metro design language/philosophy/tiled user interface as "Windows Store"? No. "Windows Store" is, apparently, the new, official replacement for "Metro-Style" only. And what happened to Microsoft's guidance that folks start referring to Metro apps as "Windows 8" apps? I guess that's out the window (pun intended) now....
The new "Windows Store" name creates as many questions as it answers. What do we call Windows Phone apps? Are these also now considered "Windows Store" apps, even though the Windows Phone app store and the Windows Store for Windows 8 and Windows RT apps are totally separate -- though rumored some day to be coming together as one? What about "Windows Store" style line-of-business apps that aren't sold through the Windows Store?
Update: Microsoft is renaming the Windows Phone Marketplace to the Windows Phone Store, officials said on September 12. So maybe this will ease the disconnect around the "Windows Store" name if and when it is applied to Windows Phone apps (?)
The new "Windows Store" name is a start. Here's hoping more of the post-Metro naming particulars will be shared sooner rather than later.