Windows 8: Microsoft Ditches Term 'Metro'

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft is reportedly scrambling to come up with a replacement name for its new user interface in Windows 8.

According to reports, the Redmond, Washington-based company has decided to completely drop the name 'Metro' after a threat of legal action arose over possible trademark violations. Microsoft has reportedly told its staff they should not use the term in any applications or documents.

Microsoft has been calling its new interface 'Metro' for some time. In the past it was meant to describe an overall design style, including both a typeface and a system incorporating very large icons.

There have even been claims that Microsoft's 'Metro' design was inspired by signs associated with the public transport system in Microsoft's home city of Seattle.

Metro Once the Centerpiece of Windows 8

The most dramatic graphical change in Windows 8 is its default user interface, which is based on Microsoft's 'Metro' and evidences many tile-based design decisions.

The goal of this interface style was to communicate critical information as quickly as possible. Microsoft's first use of the Metro design style was in the menu screens on Windows Phone 7 devices.

The traditional Windows desktop (with its much smaller icons) will still be available in Windows 8, but only as an alternative to the 'normal' setting.

Microsoft's decision to position 'Metro' as the default set-up has been seen by many experts as an attempt to dominate the touchscreen market.

'Metro' Name Could Cause Trademark Problems

Officially, Microsoft says the name change is simply a case of dropping an internal code-name before Windows 8 goes public.

However, a leaked internal memo seems to reveal that dropping the name 'Metro' came only after internal Microsoft "discussions with an important European partner." (Source:

Insiders say those discussions raised the threat of a patent dispute. While this notion remains unconfirmed, many observers believe the European partner involved is Metro AG, a German retail giant. (Source:

The leaked memo asks staff to temporarily use the term 'Windows 8 style UI' (UI stands for "user interface"), and goes on to say Microsoft plans to have a replacement term ready for public use very soon.

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