Metro style, Metro UI, Metro has been the design style that we have become accustomed to since the introduction of Windows Phone. It’s synonymous with all the new releases we have seen from Microsoft of late, from Windows 8’s home screen app tiles to the new outlook.com mail service. In one foul swoop it seems to have been curtailed though, It’s not Metro any more.
sources are telling us that this is coming to an abrupt end after the company’s Legal and Corporate Affairs team sent out a memo banning the word “Metro.” LCA’s memo reportedly says that Microsoft has been threatened with legal action for infringing on “Metro” trademarks held by German retailer Metro AG
This is a phenomenal situation considering that Windows 8 went RTM this week and looks to be seeded to people with different levels of access over the next two months.
From now on, the new terminology that Microsoft is using is “Windows 8-style UI” when talking about Windows 8 applications, and “New User Interface” when talking about the company’s full product line-up
What is “Metro” though, it’s a fairly common term all around the world for urban transit systems, companies, mainly rail service providers. The UI style that it was used to describe, was said to be inspired by the graphic and typography based style of signage, used in these systems. A style seemingly capable of spanning all languages, with an inherent simplicity subscribing to the less is more philosophy. Examples of it can be found in all cultures, change the text to a different language and the icons are still a very powerful communication tool.
While “Metro” may be a good descriptor for the UI style that Microsoft have gone with, it is in fact a convenient generality for a common style, Microsoft did not coin the term, copyright or register it as a trademark. There in it seems the problem lies, and it will be no easy task to change the accepted terminology that has grown up around their emerging products overnight. According to the Verge,
The Windows team is “working on a replacement term”, “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.”
It’s an interesting dilemma, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft can market/rebrand their now nameless signature style in the period of a financial quarter, when they are set to bring the biggest overall makeover to their product line up they have ever attempted. Whilst an in company memo may cleanse “Metro” from their company communications, how will they change the language of all of enthusiasts out in the real world?
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 Ars Technica