Home Your Tech Home Tech Windows 8: Metro name switched metroff, now: Windows 8
Goodbye Metro, hello Windows 8 Goodbye Metro, hello Windows 8

With the launch of Windows 8 to MSDN and TechNet users in less than three days from August 15 (US time - August 16 in Australia), and then October 26 at retail, the decision to stop using the Metro “code name”, for whatever reason, came at just the right time – along with a stack of other Windows 8 news from Acer and the Surface tablet.

Comments by two top Acer executives against Microsoft’s Surface and expanding hardware program, instead of Acer coming up with its own supercool ultrabook/tablet hybrid, are in the news regarding Windows 8, Surface tablets and the Metro interface name that is no longer, alongside news that the Xbox team WAS involved with the creation of Surface after all – with those Surface and Acer details on page two.  

First up is more Windows 8 “Metro” news, which was Microsoft’s code name for its (retro 1980s Volvo-ish?) boxy UI. The Metro code name is now no longer, with Metro apparently having already been trademarked by German supermarket chain Metro AG, as we previously reported in early August.

It’s an issue because Metro apps were the Windows 8 apps that ran on Windows tablets and computers running both ARM and Intel/AMD processors, while desktop apps were the ones that ran on Intel/AMD-equipped Windows 8 tablets and computers only.   

The details are below, but Microsoft will reportedly soon unveil ‘Windows 8’ as the replacement name for Metro in all places where Metro was used, such as Metro app, Metro UI or Metro design.

Removing Metro means needing to specify an app works on both Windows RT and Windows 8 (Pro, Enterprise, Server) through the “Windows 8 UI” that is common to both RT and 8 versions, and specifying that desktop apps only work on Windows 8 models while directing people to the Windows RT version of the app if one is available.

Microsoft must have decided it’s not an insurmountable issue – just change the name to Windows 8. Clearly, Microsoft has moved on towards the far more important "launching of the new OS" itself, with its new Surface hardware/software platform a potentially very strong new iCompetitor. This is what Microsoft SHOULD be focusing on, rather than fluffing about “gilding the naming conventions lily” now that it has decided to ditch the Metro "name" for good.  

In addition, Microsoft’s Windows 8 Store was always called the Windows 8 store – not the Metro Store, and anything in the Windows 8 store was always supposed to work on either Windows RT or 8 because of the Metro and now Windows 8 UI.

Maybe the German Metro AG supermarket wanted to open its own digital store selling Metro branded products, including apps and anything else at some point in the future, and given this obstacle, it must have too expensive or too much trouble to license or share the Metro trademark.

So, Microsoft is mouthing Metro no longer, as it announced a few days ago in issuing the following statement: “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”.

Although this Google search for “Microsoft.com Windows 8 metro” brings up plenty of results showing Microsoft still using the word Metro on various Microsoft sites, news reports say Microsoft has been “urging” its third-party Win 8 software developers to “remove all mentions of the word 'Metro’ from their applications”.

Presumably, this will all be cleaned up sooner rather than later and certainly well before the October 26 Windows 8 GA or general availability launch, if not magically before the August 15 Windows 8 RTM.

The news of a replacement for the word “Metro” has been followed up by CNET’s Mary Jo Foley, whose sources say Microsoft has simply chosen “Windows 8” as the replacement for Metro.

Other reports say there is talk of Metro UI also being replaced by the term “Modern UI”, but given the simplicity of “Windows 8” and the way it has worked for each previous Windows version being referred to by name for software design, compatibility etc, “Windows 8” instead of “Metro” makes the most sense – and even more so when you look up something like “Netro” as a replacement (a play on Metro and .net, for example), you see there’s plenty of other companies already using that term too.

That's also despite Microsoft dubbing the interface for Vista and 7 as "Aero", but that few actually referred to when talking about app design.

Conveniently, Ms Foley’s sources say the official term for Metro-style application is now Windows 8 application, and instead of Metro user interface and Metro design, the “official terms” are Windows 8 user interface and Windows 8 design.

The caveat is that Microsoft is still to announce it officially for the change to be truly official, and as no-one is predicting or expecting that Microsoft to still come up with some stunningly cool name instead by August 15 or October 26, plain ol’ Windows 8 makes sense at this late stage.

It also makes the link with Windows 8 Phones, which those sources say are also going to be described as having a Windows 8 design and UI.

Given the same code base for the Windows 8 OS and Windows 8 Phone OS, most Windows 8 apps will likely be instantly and easily ported to smartphone size, there’ll surely be plenty of “universal” tablet/smartphone “Windows 8 apps” – just as we see for many apps on the iPad.

Then there’s the those Acer comments on Microsoft’s Surface tablet and hardware ambitions, and why Acer doesn’t compete instead of complaining, alongside claims the Xbox team WAS involved in Surface Tablet development despite what was previously a prominent claim to the contrary – please read on to page two!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

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One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks, including stints as presenter of Ch 10’s Internet Bright Ideas, Ch 7’s Room for Improvement and tech expert on Ch 9’s Today Show, among many other news and current affairs programs.

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