Microsoft’s marrriage and divorce with ‘Metro’ UI

Microsoft has been in the news off late for readying Windows 8, it latest Windows operating system, for commercial availability. It is now already available for TechNet and MSDN subscribers. In other parts of news, it’s been criticized for its failed attempt to brand the Windows 8 UI as ‘Metro’ – first doing so and then later reversing its decision, thus banning the usage of the word ‘Metro’ almost everywhere.

Windows 8 comes with a brand new and refreshing look from its predecessors and Microsoft proudly wore it on their sleeves as the ‘Metro UI’, where the trademark Start button was made to disappear, making way for an intuitive user interface loaded with Metro Apps and the ability to interact with users in a dynamic way. It got its share of praise and brick bats, but one thing was for sure; it indeed was a refreshing change from the UI of its previous versions. Metro look, Metro UI, Metro style were few of the synonyms that users fondly referred to.

However, one fine day, Microsoft issued a statement directing users and developers to NOT use the word ‘Metro’ anywhere with respect to Windows 8 and Windows Phone. This came as a shocker after the hugely publicized usage of the word ‘Metro’ in commercials, conferences, launches, official guides and in the beta versions of respective operating systems. The reason for making this strange decision is credited with the fact that Microsoft did not want to run in to copyright legal tangles with an European company, Metro Group – after having a detailed discussion with the latter over the matter.

Users are now advised to use ‘Modern UI‘ or simply ‘Windows 8 UI‘ when referring to the ‘Metro UI’ but it just doesn’t make sense at all. This strange reversal in decision is costing Microsoft big time, in terms of loss of image and will hurt developers the most.

Microsoft has now banned all such apps from its Windows 8 App Store and the Windows Phone Marketplace which have the word ‘Metro’ as a part of their name. New submitted apps with the ‘Metro’ word in them are outright rejected. Developers of existing popular apps like MetroTwit may now face the dilemma of either bringing it down or renaming the app, in due course of time.

Microsoft should have carefully weighed all these factors, issues and precautions much before going out and publicizing the new ‘Metro UI’ on huge billboards at Times Square. It should have investigated about the naming convention issue much before the word ‘Metro’ became a brand and synonymous with Windows Phone or Windows 8.

As for now, the word has vanished from official guides, websites and blogs etc. but every time I walk down in to the nearby station with those arrows-inside-circles signs on arrival/departure boards, it’ll always remind me of Windows 8 and its ‘Metro UI’.

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Microsoft Student Partner | Computer Science graduate | Loves flirting with technology | Author at The Geeks Club | Lives on the web at @asrartheone