Microsoft Discontinues Use of Metro Name

By: Matthew Humphries

If you’ve read any news coming out of Microsoft over the past year relating to Windows 8 or Windows Phone, you’ve heard the name “Metro” used quite heavily. Metro refers to the design language and overall style of the interface Microsoft is using for both its desktop/tablet and mobile operating systems.

As of today, Metro is no longer a word Microsoft will be using to describe anything to do with their product line-up. It has officially been killed off as a term Microsoft’s staff and marketing is allowed to use.

The specific reason for this sudden change remains unclear. It was first thought to be due to a trademark infringement Microsoft couldn’t settle with German company Metro AG. Microsoft has since sent around an internal memo stating Metro will no longer be used following “discussions with an important European partner.”

It’s unlikely we’ll hear any further explanation beyond that officially, but we can expect to hear a replacement term and phrases coming out of Microsoft before this week is over.

It’s definitely a blow to the Windows 8 marketing campaign as Metro as a term is instantly associated with the OS and interface. And it will be interesting to see how Microsoft decides to handle discussing the interface going forward. Will we simply get Windows 8 and Windows Phone interface terms from now on? Or will there be a totally new buzzword coming out of Redmond? For the moment expect to hear “Windows 8 style UI.”

Another question that needs to be asked: why did Microsoft decide to commercialize a name without first checking (and trademarking worldwide) it wouldn’t cause an issue big enough to see it killed 3 months before a major product launch?

Windows 8 has already gone RTM, and anyone with an MSDN or TechNet subscription will be getting the final ISO on August 15. Will that still happen? It depends on whether Microsoft has used the Metro name within the OS itself and how easily it can be patched out. There’s also a question mark over how much marketing material Microsoft will now have to dump, and whether any training materials need changing, too.

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