Microsoft ditches ‘Metro’ design name for Windows 8, all other products

After nearly two years of calling its design language “Metro,” Microsoft has decided to get rid of the name, most likely because of a dispute with the German company Metro AG.

The Verge first reported that Microsoft told developers to stop using the “Metro” name on Windows 8 and Windows Phone apps because of a dispute over the name. But now, Microsoft appears to be getting rid of the name completely. This news comes just a few days after the company’s successful launch of Outlook.com, during which Microsoft touted its clean, Metro-style design.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company is dropping Metro because it’s a “code name,” not a final commercial name. She told us:

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.

This statement rings false. Microsoft first starting hyping up the “Metro” design when it introduced Windows Phone 7 back in October 2010, and it has been using the word to describe Windows 8 for a long while as well. On a Microsoft tutorial page that’s still available (wonder how fast this will be taken down), here’s Microsoft’s official description of Metro per Windows Phone 7:

Metro is the name of the new design language created for the Windows Phone 7 interface. When given the chance for a fresh start, the Windows Phone design team drew from many sources of inspiration to determine the guiding principles for the next generation phone interface. Sources included Swiss influenced print and packaging with its emphasis on simplicity, way-finding graphics found in transportation hubs and other Microsoft software such as Zune, Office Labs, and games with a strong focus on motion and content over chrome.

Not only has the new design language enabled a unique and immersive experience for users of Windows Phone 7; it has also revitalized third-party applications. The standards that have been developed for Metro provide a great baseline, for designers and developers alike. Those standards help them to create successful gesture-driven Windows Phone 7 experiences built for small devices.

Microsoft doesn’t want to admit that it’s giving up the name over a potentially expensive naming dispute, so it’s saying Metro was a “code name” all along. If that makes you feel better, we understand, Microsoft. And so long, Metro!

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