Could Microsoft be reducing usage of the word 'Metro'?

For the last year and more, Microsoft has been eagerly promoting the 'Metro' design language. Metro this, Metro that, Metro everything.

It seems that this might not be staying the case for too long. Microsoft is trying to slow the usage of the term 'Metro', both internally to the company and outside it.

This could be an interesting change for the company, since they've spent so much time promoting the Metro name in many of their products, and products which previously didn't follow the guidelines have been changed to fit.

A Microsoft spokesperson delivered the following statement to Mary Jo Foley over on ZDNet:

“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.”

It's possible the company is stepping away from the term due to potential user confusion. You'll note that the spokesperson referred to Metro as a codename. For a codename they were pushing it pretty hard, but we're not going to question it, because we're an agreeable bunch.

The term has been in use by Microsoft for a number of years now, with some design elements of the Metro UI being possible to trace back as far as 1998. As screenshots from Windows 8 and other Metro things show, the design puts more emphasis on typography.

Windows 8 has been released to manufacturing, and it comes with plenty of little Metro tidbits. Could the company be quickly editing things to cull usage of the word? And if they are, why?

If it is the case then they have not made it clear to the general public. Perhaps they're going to redefine the term and focus it more on clear boundaries of what is and is not 'Metro'.

Source: ZDNet
Metro description: Wikipedia

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Makes sense. 'Metro' is now going to be the standard Microsoft UI, so I'd expect them to drop the name entirely, and just make Metro synonymous with MS.

Politcians do the same thing with acts/bills they want to pass that have gotten bad press because they're not good, so they change the name to rebrand it in hopes to sneak it by, pretty much the same reasoning here I suspect.

Wow, I never realized how much thought some of you guys put into Microsoft's new design principle and paradigm. Heck, I was half trying to make my post sound like a bit. But it does make more sense to me now. So, for that, I'm grateful.

devHead said,
Wow, I never realized how much thought some of you guys put into Microsoft's new design principle and paradigm. Heck, I was half trying to make my post sound like a bit. But it does make more sense to me now. So, for that, I'm grateful.

Yeah man, no problem. I always try to politely inform people. And I really didn't put a lot of thought in it. Everything I said was from straight from Microsoft. However, I do think when done right, Metro is a beautiful interface, however that is the problem. Metro is still a young design language and developers (even Microsoft's') are still learning so its not always done right. In the next couple years I think will see more great looking apps as developers understand it better. It is also a great way to unify interfaces across all devices.

And if you don't believe me that a well done Metro interface is beautiful, check out the Zune desktop app. (Also tell me how well this Metro looking app works with a mouse - perfectly in case you were wondering)

Maybe Microsoft is so very slowly recognizing the problems with its constant emphasis on the Metro UI and how it is becoming quite apparent so unfriendly to mouse/keyboard oriented laptops and desktops.

TsarNikky said,
Maybe Microsoft is so very slowly recognizing the problems with its constant emphasis on the Metro UI and how it is becoming quite apparent so unfriendly to mouse/keyboard oriented laptops and desktops.

Hehe, you mean like how your up down scroll on the mouse now goes left and right in a window?

Let's look at their statement up there. After the first sentence, they say, "WE CALL IT METRO BECAUSE IT'S MODERN AND CLEAN". What about the word Metro, though brings modernness or cleanliness to mind? An underground metro station is likely not too clean, although perhaps some European ones are. But I don't necessarily think of a metro station being clean or necessarily modern.

Then they exclaim, "IT'S FAST AND IN MOTION. IT'S ABOUT CONTENT AND TYPOGRAPHY." So, the continuing idea of Metro, where fast trains are going by to and fro, that's fast. But a design style/language can't really convey speed. At least to me. So, how is it about content? The type of content? If it's about typography, then we're dealing with a new kind of font or something like that. I guess the all capital letters are the new look of the Metro design. Big, and easy to read maybe.

But the last statement is kind of nebulous: "AND IT'S ENTIRELY AUTHENTIC." So, authentic means it's not fake. It's the real deal. But if they've just made up all this, why would they need to say it's authentic. Are they saying, 'We're really real with this design concept. We're not making it up!'

I don't know, to an extent it seems as if it's a grouping of cool-sounding phrases that don't really describe anything concrete, but sound like they've got some new paradigm and style principle that they're basing their future applications and platforms on.

Edited by devHead, Aug 3 2012, 12:07am :

"WE CALL IT METRO BECAUSE IT'S MODERN AND CLEAN"
They actually got the idea from the information boards in Metro stations, and that's what it is referring to, not the actual stations themselves.

"IT'S FAST AND IN MOTION. IT'S ABOUT CONTENT AND TYPOGRAPHY."
Here it's talking about the animations present in designs. Apps should seem like they are alive and very dynamic (while also being usable of course). And the content is the app. Metro is all about lack of chrome - no unnecessary borders or outlines - focusing instead on the content. And this is where the typography comes in. Instead of using before mentioned unnecessary borders, use text of varying sizes to indicate your outline.

"AND IT'S ENTIRELY AUTHENTIC."
I agree with you on this. I am not sure what this one is trying to get across. If anyone knows be my guest to inform us.

For more information check out the Wikipedia article - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_(design_language)

If you want to see good examples of the design language I recommend checking out the new Music app or Zune.

BannanaNinja said,

"AND IT'S ENTIRELY AUTHENTIC."
I agree with you on this. I am not sure what this one is trying to get across. If anyone knows be my guest to inform us.

Microsoft is trying to say that the focus is on design and presenting content , and not on impressing users with effects, chromes, or faux surfaces like wood or brushed steel or imitating the look of notebooks, etc.

"Authenticity" is a word that's been used a lot in philosophy and theory of art to refer to an honest approach rather than something pretentious or pandering.

devHead said,
Let's look at their statement up there. After the first sentence, they say, "WE CALL IT METRO BECAUSE IT'S MODERN AND CLEAN". What about the word Metro, though brings modernness or cleanliness to mind? An underground metro station is likely not too clean, although perhaps some European ones are. But I don't necessarily think of a metro station being clean or necessarily modern.

Then they exclaim, "IT'S FAST AND IN MOTION. IT'S ABOUT CONTENT AND TYPOGRAPHY." So, the continuing idea of Metro, where fast trains are going by to and fro, that's fast. But a design style/language can't really convey speed. At least to me. So, how is it about content? The type of content? If it's about typography, then we're dealing with a new kind of font or something like that. I guess the all capital letters are the new look of the Metro design. Big, and easy to read maybe.

But the last statement is kind of nebulous: "AND IT'S ENTIRELY AUTHENTIC." So, authentic means it's not fake. It's the real deal. But if they've just made up all this, why would they need to say it's authentic. Are they saying, 'We're really real with this design concept. We're not making it up!'

I don't know, to an extent it seems as if it's a grouping of cool-sounding phrases that don't really describe anything concrete, but sound like they've got some new paradigm and style principle that they're basing their future applications and platforms on.

I agree with the first major statement. The second major statement is questionable, in that it does reveal Windows-8's emphasis on content consumption instead of content creation. The third major statements says nothing.

brianshapiro said,

Microsoft is trying to say that the focus is on design and presenting content , and not on impressing users with effects, chromes, or faux surfaces like wood or brushed steel or imitating the look of notebooks, etc.

"Authenticity" is a word that's been used a lot in philosophy and theory of art to refer to an honest approach rather than something pretentious or pandering.

Ok that makes sense. More of clarifying the previous point that not only is the focus content, but that even the content shouldn't have "chrome."

I'm guessing Microsoft doesn't want Window 8 to turn out like Nintendo 64.
Air Boarder 64, Bomberman 64, Carmageddon 64, Donkey Kong 64, Super Mario 64 ..etc

Metro has always been an internal code name, there is no product that uses the terminology.

It is not uncommon for code names to be replaced with product releases.

Since Windows 8 introduces the essential embodied work of the modern Metro UI concepts, it would seem most likely they would call the new UI 'concepts' Windows 8 UI or Windows 8 Style UI.

jimmyfal said,
May 18th "Creating Windows 8 UE", paragraph 1.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/arc...dows-8-user-experience.aspx

"Windows 8 introduces a new kind of app, which we codenamed “Metro style” "

Again, 'codename' was all Metro has ever been. It has several monikers over the years, going back to software in the Streets98, Encarta 9x era that first introduce some of the UI concepts that are the foundation of Metro.

Metro comes from 'street and navigation signs' we see all over that are concise and functional. The idea that they are changing from place to place and not a paragraph of text or obscure Icons when they are not necessary.

The 'Metro' Style is just another layer in the whole UI and usability design model, when you stack up the research from the 1990s at Microsoft, add in the research on typography and graphic design merged into a digital world, add on new flow concepts of content, add in new usability concepts with regard to touch, add in new navigation items, and on and on.

Metro is a consolidation of some layers, but is not the FULL description of the UI model or Style. It was a codename that more closely defines the textual navigation concepts and the multipage side scrolling layouts.

Windows 8 is far more than just Metro, with a lot of changes from the basic Metro styles. So a bigger UI concepts needs a new name, and Metro doesn't fit everything.

Instead it should be something like: Windows 8 ________ (Fill in the Blank) UI, Style, interface model, etc

A340600 said,
So if it's not "Metro", what is it? What is the UI called? Like Aero, Aqua, Cinnamon,...

It has usually been referred to as the "Immersive UI" so that might actually be the name proper

A340600 said,
So if it's not "Metro", what is it? What is the UI called? Like Aero, Aqua, Cinnamon,...

Windows.

They want the new experiance to be simply Windows. To be synonyms with what Windows is thought of now and what the new direction of metro startscreen and its apps provide. Eventually it will, but for the time being common use has coined the term Metro to mean anything to do with the new interface, be it apps or the start screen.

Sraf said,

It has usually been referred to as the "Immersive UI" so that might actually be the name proper

I remember that but I still prefer Metro, and now people associate Metro with Windows 8.

sagum said,

Windows.

They want the new experiance to be simply Windows. To be synonyms with what Windows is thought of now and what the new direction of metro startscreen and its apps provide. Eventually it will, but for the time being common use has coined the term Metro to mean anything to do with the new interface, be it apps or the start screen.

I get that but I still think it needs a name, just for naming purposes, and Metro had a nice ring to it.

Windows XP was Luna.
Windows XP MCE had Energy Blue (I really liked that one).
Vista and 7 was Aero.
Windows 8 was Metro.

Dot Matrix said,
Metro, metro, metro. Sue me.

Too late. Fisher-Price is suing because they want their kiddie color scheme back...

excalpius said,

Too late. Fisher-Price is suing because they want their kiddie color scheme back...

Im pretty sure they tried that with XP's themes. It went on to be one of the best selling, most used OS to date... go figure.

Chica Ami said,
Metro is fast and that is soo funny... How can it be *fast* when it's just text?

Thats really the problem they've faced. Its not just text. Its mostly the lack of text, and only providing text when its really needed. Sometimes not enough text. Unless you know how to use Metro in Windows 8, it can be quite difficult to learn how to use it due to the lack of visual prompts and clues.
Its more about large clickable (read; ease to touch with big fingers) buttons, and less about reading. People do identify with icons quicker as a visual simulus then having to read, even more so for younger people (their target generation).

If anyone remembers Windows 95, they had to have '< click here to begin' bouncing across the taskbar because people just didn't know how to use the startmenu or task bar when coming from the program manager in windows 3.x.

Chica Ami said,
Metro is fast and that is soo funny... How can it be *fast* when it's just text?

Take a look at the Zune desktop app and come back and tell me how fast it is . That = Metro 100%. Not only is it a great music player, but it looks great and is very smooth. If developers will make apps like this, Windows 8 will be great. If they do poor implementations of Metro (which a lot do), it won't.

BannanaNinja said,

Take a look at the Zune desktop app and come back and tell me how fast it is . That = Metro 100%. Not only is it a great music player, but it looks great and is very smooth. If developers will make apps like this, Windows 8 will be great. If they do poor implementations of Metro (which a lot do), it won't.

Except if you have any thing you want to read, the text fades away after about 20 characters. So its near impossible to sort video and music properly. It does look great, and I have to use it with my Windows Phone, but its usability is lacking.

If they didnt want Metro to be synonymous with the Win8 changes they should have got ahead of this earlier. I think we'll be calling a lot of Win8 things metro for some time to come. I think at this stage they may as well just embrace it.

If it is the case then they have not made it clear to the general public.

They never made it clear to the general public that it was called Metro in the first place. Only developers, really. Same way "Ribbon" became "Fluent UI"

rev23dev said,

They never made it clear to the general public that it was called Metro in the first place. Only developers, really. Same way "Ribbon" became "Fluent UI"

There was also the issue about people calling everything metro when they're talking about different things. THey call the start screen, metro, they call apps metro apps, and so on. I think it was becoming a mess.

GP007 said,

There was also the issue about people calling everything metro when they're talking about different things. THey call the start screen, metro, they call apps metro apps, and so on. I think it was becoming a mess.

Agreed.

GP007 said,

There was also the issue about people calling everything metro when they're talking about different things. THey call the start screen, metro, they call apps metro apps, and so on. I think it was becoming a mess.

The problem with the mess of calling everything Metro, is the same issues Microsoft have continued to help create. They've done it over and over and still haven't learnt.

Take their Windows brand name, they've mixed it up with the Live branding, creating Windows Live, Now they have Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live ID accounts, Windows Live Mail, then they created Windows Live Mail Desktop or maybe simply Windows Mail. Now we're seeing them moving away from all that yet again after creating a big brand from it.
Trying to provide support for people is a complete headache. Most people don't even know if their email account is now a Microsoft hotmail account, Windows Live account, back to Microsoft Account, xbox live account. Let not even get started on Windows messenger, msn (messenger, site, browser, ISP, or email service...) or maybe we want to take a look at the .. wait are we confused yet? And thats just one problem they've had with branding.

The Metro brand they promoted throughout the entire preview is not something just for developers. They've set out to provide a preview built for consumers, That is the average customer who'll be using it next. Their press releases go to the media, that is the news for regular people in the world, actual users. People know Metro, and if Microsoft never wanted them to understand what their codename was, they should never have made it so the public use the term.

Now as it stands, the Metro term uses is just as you've said, by 'common use' of the word, meaning the start screen, metro apps and so on. Microsoft can't really expect people to just refer to metro apps as windows apps, because they aren't. They're not backwards compatible at all, the last 15+ years of Windows applications in computing has been turned up side down. People will call it metro for a long time coming, and many people will still refer to the desktop as classic desktop as Metro apps continue to grow in popularity.

sagum said,

The problem with the mess of calling everything Metro, is the same issues Microsoft have continued to help create. They've done it over and over and still haven't learnt.

Take their Windows brand name, they've mixed it up with the Live branding, creating Windows Live, Now they have Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live ID accounts, Windows Live Mail, then they created Windows Live Mail Desktop or maybe simply Windows Mail. Now we're seeing them moving away from all that yet again after creating a big brand from it.
Trying to provide support for people is a complete headache. Most people don't even know if their email account is now a Microsoft hotmail account, Windows Live account, back to Microsoft Account, xbox live account. Let not even get started on Windows messenger, msn (messenger, site, browser, ISP, or email service...) or maybe we want to take a look at the .. wait are we confused yet? And thats just one problem they've had with branding.

The Metro brand they promoted throughout the entire preview is not something just for developers. They've set out to provide a preview built for consumers, That is the average customer who'll be using it next. Their press releases go to the media, that is the news for regular people in the world, actual users. People know Metro, and if Microsoft never wanted them to understand what their codename was, they should never have made it so the public use the term.

Now as it stands, the Metro term uses is just as you've said, by 'common use' of the word, meaning the start screen, metro apps and so on. Microsoft can't really expect people to just refer to metro apps as windows apps, because they aren't. They're not backwards compatible at all, the last 15+ years of Windows applications in computing has been turned up side down. People will call it metro for a long time coming, and many people will still refer to the desktop as classic desktop as Metro apps continue to grow in popularity.


dont forget its also because of the Anti-Trust they had that they where forced to put products under different names, divisions and such