Is 'Metro' now a banned word at Microsoft?

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Why is Microsoft allegedly telling those inside and outside the company to stop playing up "Metro" going forward when talking about the new wave of Microsoft products?

The interface formerly known as Metro?
(Credit: Lance Whitney/CNET)

For the past year, Microsoft has been playing up its Metro design language/philosophy as the crux around which its future product design revolves. But in the past few days, I've been hearing from a number of my contacts that Microsoft is trying to slow, if not halt, internal and external use of the term "Metro".

What gives?

I've heard from a few sources that they believe Microsoft is stepping away from "Metro" because of a possible copyright dispute with some other entity. (No idea who/what entity that might be, if it is true.)

I asked Microsoft about this, and received no comment.

A representative did send me the following statement, however:

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 dialogue to a broad consumer dialogue, we will use our commercial names.

(Hmm. I didn't realise "Metro style" was ever "just" a code name.)

Some other people I talked to this week who had heard talk about Microsoft de-emphasising Metro said they believe that the company may be stepping back from the over-Metrofication of all terms and concepts because of potential user confusion. A decade ago, when Microsoft's marketing teams got more than a tad overzealous with .Net branding, there was a subsequent purge during which products were renamed and marketing materials redone.

Many have noted that Microsoft's use of "Metro style" to refer to apps built using the WinRT application programming concept versus apps that aren't WinRT based but still use elements of the Metro look and feel (like the new Office 2013 apps) has been confusing, to say the least.

Microsoft has used "Metro" to refer to the new typography-centric, flatter, cleaner and more modern look and feel that is central to Windows 8, Windows Phone, Xbox Live, Office 2013, Visual Studio 2012 and other new and upcoming Microsoft products. Among the first Microsoft products to epitomise the Metro look and feel were Windows Media Center and Zune.

Whatever the reasons behind the attempt to pull back on "Metro", the edict comes at a tough time. Microsoft just released to manufacturing the Windows 8 bits on 1 August. Windows Phone 8 is due out this spring. Will training materials, marketing collateral, help files and other supporting matter need to expunge the word on last-minute notice?


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Im Batman posted a comment   

Really interesting swing from Microsoft, the playing up of Metro really appeared to be their way of changing peoples perception of the product that might be constrained by the name "windows" being present in it.

Appears they are still wanting to focus on the name windows and retain it... maybe they hired a different focus group research company this time which told them that the windows name was still relevent in peoples minds.

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