From the Forums: Microsoft, what's Metro called then?

The inspiration for the new UI in Windows 8 is clear.

According to Microsoft, Windows 8 is “a bold reimagining of Windows, from the chipset to the user experience.” This reimagining, then, brings a completely new user interface to Windows 8, an UI that is a complete departure from any previous versions of Windows. And since the first unveiling of Windows 8 and throughout its public preview releases, this new UI has been referred to, by the community, as the Metro UI because it follows the Microsoft’s design language that was known as the Metro design language. Microsoft itself referred to apps running on the reimagined Windows 8 platform (WinRT) as Metro Style apps. Why, then, isn’t the term “Metro” ever referred to in the operating system itself? More importantly, why does Microsoft officially refuse to name the new, reimagined, user interface?

According to Paul Thurrott in Windows Weekly podcast episode 274, when asked, Microsoft personnel would gladly call the classic desktop as the Windows 8 desktop, but they would never call the new UI by any particular name. When asked explicitly what the name of the new UI in Windows 8 is, they just called it Windows. So basically, we have the Windows desktop and, simply, Windows, and not desktop and Metro. At first, this seems quite strange because why would there not be an official name to the new UI in Windows 8; I will admit that I was quite confused by this as well. However, given some time to think about this, I am able to understand what Microsoft is trying to get at.

The trick to all this is to approach Windows 8 in a fundamentally different way. That is, we must not think of Windows 8 as having the Metro UI on top of the Windows 7 desktop, but rather, we should approach Windows 8 as having the Metro UI as the primary UI with desktop as the secondary option. Conceptually, Windows 8 is Metro plus desktop, and not the other way around. Technically, Metro is not primary nor secondary because both desktop and Metro is part of explorer.exe. But if we conceptually see the Metro UI as the primary Windows user interface, there is no need to really call it anything but the Windows UI. For instance, we don’t call the UI in Windows 7 the desktop UI or the Aero UI, but, rather, we call simply call it the Windows 7 user interface. This is the same with Windows XP, or Mac OSX. We call OSX’s Aqua user interface by, well, OSX user interface. The same principle applies to Windows 8, if we consider metro to be the primary UI. Metro, then is the Windows 8 UI, and because the desktop is now secondary in Windows 8, the classic Windows UI in Windows 8 is given a name of “desktop”.

Paul Thurrott does bring up a valid point that term Windows 8 UI is time bound, whereas something like Metro is timeless. That is, when, say, Windows 9 is released, the term Windows 8 UI will make no sense. I completely agree with this argument. I believe the proper name of the Windows 8 UI is Windows UI. In Windows 7 and prior, for example, the tem Windows UI represented what is now the classic desktop. There was no need to call it Windows 7 UI or Windows Vista UI because the UI paradigm was the same in these versions of Windows. Because the UI paradigm is changing in Windows 8, the metro UI in Windows 8 is being referred to as “Windows 8 UI” rather than simply “Windows UI” for differentiation. However, I do think that in the future, the new Metro UI will simply be referred to as the Windows UI. I believe in the future, when we hear the term Windows UI, we will think of what is now called Metro and we will refer to the classic UI as the desktop. Similarly, we will soon refer to Metro Style apps as Windows Apps and the traditional Windows apps as Desktop Apps.

Some people will still want to call it Metro for now though.

Windows 8 is as much a transitional OS as it is a reimagining of Windows. Hence, terms such as Windows 8 UI or Windows 8 Apps are only temporary, which will eventually be replaced by broader terms such as Windows UI and Windows Apps. Metro, or Modern, or whatever they are calling it these days may be still referred to the design language itself, just like Aero or Aqua is.

View: Why Microsoft Refuses to Name the Windows 8 User Interface

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Windows 8 Hands-on Labs open for registration

Next Story

Unity3D graphics engine support coming to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8


Commenting is disabled on this article.

Why don't we just call it Frank? It's a nice name. I had the same problem.when my daughter was born. What do I name her? Something functional? Like Bedwetting Foodchucker? The authorities weren't too pleased. Pick something nice they said. Frank's a nice name. Now I think I'll name my next kid Metro. Or maybe Rose.

They had the same problem in 1982 with the Microsoft Mouse. Everyone liked it although some guy in Florida complained. Microsoft wanted to change its name to the Microsoft Mickey.

Metro has been used as this UI and design philosophy way before Win8 so it has historical meaning that has nothing to do with Win8.

Zune interface
Windows Media center

Both were using Metro UI elements way before Win8

I think this has been MS only mistake during this time. Metro is a good name for the look and feel of their united UI across multiple platforms. I know it may be a legal issue to use it but they really should just pay up so that Metro can be used as a simple one stop word for the UI they are using.

It fully explains the interface and give people and idea about it in a single word.

So the Windows is Modern UI in the first place now. Windows has a lagacy environment for legacy Win32 or desktop applications which - in its turn - has another legacy environment for console applications. Take the desktop app out of the picture and you got pure new Windows. I just can't imagine desktop power apps fadin' away in favor of touch-oriented Modern UI apps but that's definitely the way MS will be pushing. Will see.

LeeWhittington said,
Honestly it has gotten out of hand and a bit confusing. Microsoft called it Metro, labeled everything Metro and has now told everyone not to call it Metro but Microsoft itself still refers to it as Metro as evident by the Developer pages. You have Metro Style apps and Desktop Style apps:

Metro has always been the codename. It had to be called something while in development. It's the media that jumped on this "Metro" name that made it such a popular term. As I said in a previous comment, it was originally referred to as the Immersive UI internally. Metro is the design language - the inspiration taken from the signage of the King County Metro transit system - the visual framework for the look and feel of the new interface. It was never supposed to be officially called the Metro UI.

Yep, Metro is called Immersive now. I even saw it called that in some menus under W8 RTM. Like the other poster said I still prefer Metro. I suppose it's because the phrase 'Metro look' has been around forever and of course conveys a look. Immersive on the other hand doesn't convey a look to me it's more like sticking oneself under water :-)

streetw0lf said,
...and of course conveys a look...

It might not convey a look but it does convey an experience - pretty well if you ask me. When I think immersive I think of being surrounded by data and only data. None of the fluff and distractions that come from chrome. Just pure consumption of data. And that's exactly what you get with Windows 8's new interface. It's all about the data that the user cares about most, front and center.

That might just be me though.

I remember way back when the first hints of Windows 8 started to surface and the new UI was called Immersive. I still will continue to refer to it as 'Metro' but if we can't have that, I would prefer going back to Immersive because, at the end of the day, it really is an immersive UI.

IronChef75 said,

To be fair, I don't mind it, other than all the API limitations and its restrictive nature.

Unless you're a developer, you never have to think about these supposed API limitations. Those 'limitations' have always been in place, they were just never policed effectively - developers not storing user data in folder made specifically for that reason, allowing programs access to files they shouldn't have access to in the first place, etc. This is something Microsoft should have done much sooner.

I never liked the name "Metro" because it always reminds me of the South Park episode where all of the men became "metrosexuals". I can't help but laugh at the similarities between the UI and the characters outfits/behavior from that episode.

I think the reason they don't want it named something catchy and memorable is so people don't have such a clear target to associate with their fear, uncertainty and doubt regarding the new interface elements. Windows 8 may end up being another Vista, but the Metro (whatever) interface is a big deal for Microsoft, and I think they'd rather have the opportunity to evolve it over time, instead of being forced to rip it out completely in all future versions of Windows. If people see all of Windows 8's problems as being exclusive to this "Metro" thing, if people think of it as a clearly defined and separate part of "Windows", then Microsoft may feel a lot of pressure to remove it in Windows 9. If people just decide to hate Windows 8, they may still be more receptive to a more evolved Metro in Windows 9. That's my theory. I don't think it will affect how people perceive Windows 8 and Metro though.

I've meet many people who have said they hated Vista, and then do something ignorant like get a new computer, look at the Windows 7 desktop, and then ask with deep concern, "Is this thing Vista? I don't want Vista." After explaining what Windows 7 is, and discovering that they didn't even know there was a Windows 7, you really do have to wonder how people end up with such strong opinions based on practically zero personal experience. I think Microsoft's marketing department (such as it is) is desperately trying to avoid another Vista disaster. Not the disaster based on Vista's genuine issues, but the disaster based on out of control FUD.

To paraphrase, I think they're playing word games (by removing words) in a vain attempt to stop their potential marketing terms from becoming negative stigmas.

I just wish they'd settle on a damn name so people, like me, can write documentation that isnt going to end up being wrong in a month when they decide to call it something else.

AmazingRando said,
I just wish they'd settle on a damn name so people, like me, can write documentation that isnt going to end up being wrong in a month when they decide to call it something else.

Windows 8 user interface is the name for the Metro UI. Windows 8 Desktop is the name for the classic Windows user interface.

Nazmus Shakib Khandaker said,
Windows 8 user interface is the name for the Metro UI.

No, it's just Windows User Interface. This is Windows. It's not tacked on. Windows 9 will continue with the same UI and will probably drop the desktop entirely. The desktop is a dying interface. It's had its limelight for some 30+ years and it's now time to move on to a new paradigm in computer / human interaction. This is just a stepping stone for Windows; where data is king and there isn't any need for real-world representations in a digital environment.

guys how could you possibly not know. here is a hint:
download visual studio 2012. try to create a so called "metro app". guess what? there ian't none. You know what the official name is?


It is right there staring you in the face. That is the official name.

neonspark said,
guys how could you possibly not know. here is a hint:
download visual studio 2012. try to create a so called "metro app". guess what? there ian't none. You know what the official name is?


It is right there staring you in the face. That is the official name.

So the start screen is actually called Windows Store UI I take it?

I would have to say that this article was quite interesting, and I would have to agree with you on what you said. I remember when they was trying to figure out a name to give the Kinect, and I swore that I would refer to the hardware by its codename because at the time I thought Kinect as a name was not that good.

As time passed on, I've completely forgotten what the Kinect's codename even was, And I also now realise how silly it was to have such a vendetta against the naming of a product. The moral of the story is. You may hate the naming conventions now, but eventually you'll stop caring and move on. It is generally not one of those things that you hold against something for long.

Ad Man Gamer said,

As time passed on, I've completely forgotten what the Kinect's codename even was

It took me a moment, but it was Project Natal. ;D

drazgoosh said,
Metro seems fine with me. Modern isn't bad either. Why so much focus on a name?

Companies spend millions on a name or a logo. It's a big focus.