Lots of discussion in the tech press today brought about apparently by Microsoft telling some 3rd party developers to stop using the word “Metro” as it seeks to change the name of the design language that started with the Zune and has swept over the company. Microsoft officials are spinning the story to have us believe that “Metro” has been 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 launch and transition from industry dialog to a broad consumer dialog we will use our commercial names.
(via Mary Jo Foley, who also “didn’t realize “Metro-Style was ever “just” a codename”). The “Metro” term was introduced, however, as a “code name”, noted in this post way back in 2010 when Long Zheng was lucky enough to get ahold of some Windows 7 Series “Metro” books that clearly state:
Metro is our code name for our design language.
The Verge has been on top of the story, reporting news of an internal memo revealing…:
that “discussions with an important European partner” led to the decision to “discontinue the use” of the Metro branding for Windows 8 and other Microsoft products — one that employees must adhere to immediately.
The Windows team is “working on a replacement term” according to the memo, “and plans to land on that by the end of this week.” Until then, employees have been advised to refer to the Metro style user interface as the “Windows 8 style UI.” The memo was distributed to employees earlier this week, so we expect to hear official news about the Metro replacement by the weekend.
What seems to be getting lost in the shuffle, however, is that Microsoft publicly referred to “Windows 8 style apps”, “formerly Metro Style” nearly two weeks ago at the unveiling of Office 2013. The press release uses the term “Windows 8 style applications for Office”, and Steve Ballmer mentioned the name change in his introduction of Office 2013, which was enough to set off a bit of a twitter storm and this blog post, by Brent Schooley at Codesnack:
Now we’re not saying that Microsoft isn’t doing somewhat of a quick about face on “Metro” naming, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with a trademark dispute. A quick check of the US Patent and Trade Office shows that Microsoft doesn’t look like it holds any claim to “Metro” (although they did, in 1997, hold a trademark for “MetroQ”, go figure). We also don’t disbelieve that a memo went out “earlier this week” even. However, Microsoft went public, via their CEO, on their intentions to quit using at least “Metro style apps” two weeks ago, so we’re a bit confused why all of this consternation is just surfacing now.
In any event, it’s goodbye to Metro, and hello to …. what? “Windows 8 style”? That doesn’t make much sense for Outlook.com or Office 2013, even though they used it in their press materials. What should Microsoft call their design language if not Metro? What would you call it? (Our favorite suggestion so far is by a commenter on The Verge, who suggested… “Zune” !!)