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Microsoft ditches Metro... in name only

Metro Start screen

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 3 Aug 2012 at 07:42

Microsoft is to ditch the Metro brand from Windows 8 and other platforms following a trademark infringement complaint.

Metro – Microsoft's codename for the tile-based interface used in Windows Phone 7 and the upcoming Windows 8 - will be rebranded, according to internal emails seen by The Verge.

Although the name change won't affect the design of the software, it is a marketing complication, with apps developed for Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 long referred to as Metro-style apps.

Microsoft, however, played down the issue by suggesting a name change was always likely.

We have used Metro style as a code name during the product development cycle across many of our product lines

"We have used Metro style as a codename during the product development cycle across many of our product lines," Microsoft said in a statement.

"As we get closer to launch and transition from industry dialogue to a broad consumer dialogue we will use our commercial names."

Developers and staff have been told to stop using "Metro" to describe the interface, instead using the less catchy "New User Interface" to describe the colourful tiled view in its operating systems.

Neither Microsoft nor the German retail company believed to be behind the complaint – Metro AG – has commented officially on the reason for the name change, but an internal email seen by The Verge confirms the company is in "discussions with an important European partner".

Germany's Metro is the fifth biggest retailer in the world and Microsoft employees have been told they must adhere to the Metro ban immediately.

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User comments

What a joke

It's quite impossible to believe that Metro was just a codename, give how close they are to release date, and how they are now calling it "new user interface". I find it incredibly sad that they can't just tell the truth and say "we f*cked up". I have even less respect for their competence than before.

By joebeard1 on 3 Aug 2012

Presumably a trademark infringement, rather than copyright...

By bradype on 3 Aug 2012


Have no idea what Metro even refers to, but wouldn't Panes be a better description for what they are, given the product is called Windows?

By beroscoe on 3 Aug 2012


Just about what I was going to say. Apart from the copyright question, 'Metro' was a good name. It's already well known and associated with the product and it's short and punchy.

To try and pretend that they ever had the slightest intention of changing it at the last minute - especially to something as lame as 'New User Interface' is a demonstration of their lack of intelligence and is an insult to ours.

By qpw3141 on 3 Aug 2012

How can a user interface be confused with a retail chain of the same name? Has the Paris Metro or the free newspaper been forced to change name?

By The_Scrote on 3 Aug 2012


Funny that their only inspiration for a new name happened to being with New... Like Apple naming their current version of the iPad as the New iPad, M$, you really are lame.

By treadmill on 3 Aug 2012

@treadmill I think you'll find the word 'new' was used by many things before Apple decided upon it. Not everything is an Apple rip-off! And how many people actually refer to the latest iPad as anything other than the iPad 3 anyway?

By The_Scrote on 3 Aug 2012


Good point. We'll correct that. Thanks.

Barry Collins

By Barry_Collins on 3 Aug 2012


Apple obviously ripped off 'New' from New Labour. ;)

By qpw3141 on 3 Aug 2012

New User Interface ...

... is a bit long winded. Why don't they call it New Look? Oh, hang on ...

By jgwilliams on 3 Aug 2012

A bit much when a company can't use standard dictionary words to describe their software.
They could call it "toy buttons" as that describes them more accurately.

By curiousclive on 3 Aug 2012


It would be a nice idea but i suspect they would be in the same boat as likely the name is used by some other company.
Good job I can have my own name as it would be a nightmare if I had to check every name in the world to make sure no one else is named the same.

By curiousclive on 3 Aug 2012


Quite likely they would be the same position as very likely some other company is using the name Panes.

By curiousclive on 3 Aug 2012

I think that we should call them...

... Windows.

£50 please

By rhythm on 3 Aug 2012

I propose...

Start (Menu|Tiles|Window|Picker|Apps)

By eggjones on 3 Aug 2012

A fluid name would be....

"Metroleum" but I think this has already been used!

By AndyPC on 3 Aug 2012

They could call it....


By confucious on 3 Aug 2012

Er... it's already RTM

As the final code has already been released to matufacturing, how can they now change the Metro name? Is it not referred to in the RTM release?

By JeffGranger on 3 Aug 2012

Windows 8 Metro ???

Metro? Isn't that the name of the New York Subway system and for that matter West Yorkshire Passenger Transport used to call their buses Metro.

Oh what the hell, new name how about Windows Action ? You click a tile and an Action occurs, or do Apple own the copyright to the word Action too? Or is that going to be Hasbro???? Time for lunch.

By ScottishYorkshireMan on 3 Aug 2012


"Metro? Isn't that the name of the New York Subway system"

I think you may be getting confused with Paris.

By qpw3141 on 3 Aug 2012

a couple of points

MSFT metro is a design philosophy. Live tiles are a feature of Windows and Phone that do stuff, within the Metro Design parameters.
The whole Metro design came out of the designs used in various Transport Infrastructure signage. Simple drawings that convey their meaning, clean typography and a total lack of clutter.
Some people like it, some people dont (they're just wrong though)
But anyways, whether or not you like the look and feel of Metro (or live tiles) is UTTERLY IRRELEVANT to this discussion.
The piece is about whether it is right that a company's trademark "metro" as registered by, in this case, Metro AG, can be seen to have precedence over any further use of that trademark in a totally unrelated product.
Whether MSFT should have capitulated quite so easily.
The answer to both questions is clearly NO.

Anymore smart Alec comments on how crappy you think metro is, expect to be flamed!

By nickallison on 3 Aug 2012


What a laugh,lol,
Broken Window Panes!,

By redshift50 on 3 Aug 2012


Don't forget the Austin Metro - does this mean a fresh injection of cash for British Leyland/Rover?

By everton2004 on 3 Aug 2012

What a pane!

New User Interface is a Pane to use...

As for use of Trademark owned by someone else, why not let SsangYong call their cars Jaguars, or MFI change their name to IKEA?

lol! How about calling it Windows Pear as it's all gone pear shaped and there are two GUIs? Or do what they did with the Zune and call it Windows private parts?

You have to feel sorry for them, they have so little imagination that gets past Ballmer.

By SwissMac on 3 Aug 2012


The Metro paper is UK only, the Paris Metro is in France, neither compete with the Metro Group in Germany (think Tescos + Dixons Group in one).

@curiousclive Metro isn't in the dictionary over here (Germany).

By big_D on 3 Aug 2012


You're right, so little imagination! They should just have called it iMetro.

Or they could still follow the alternative Apple route and buy the name.

By chapelgarth on 3 Aug 2012


presumably an operating system UI does not compete with a German retail chain either, so where is the scope for confusion?

By martindaler on 3 Aug 2012


"think Tescos + Dixons Group in one"
What, groceries and bad customer service?

By chapelgarth on 3 Aug 2012


"As for use of Trademark owned by someone else, why not let SsangYong call their cars Jaguars, or MFI change their name to IKEA?"

Those examples all refer to items in the same market. Surely even you, who can't see beyond his own fruity nose can see the difference between calling two different cars, the same name. Compared to calling a Design Principle (yeah, I'll let it slip that you still mistakenly believe that Metro=Live Tiles) the same name as a Retail Outlet/Transport Infrastructure/Free Paper/1980's Car etc, etc.
Only an eejit (or a "lets chance it lawyer) would suggest that confusion could exist between Metro the Shop and Metro the Design!

Of course all this is a complete anathema to one that is used to dealing with competition by simply steam rollering over the opposition.

As for a "pane to use" spoken like a true accolyte that has never experienced that thing that he is critising. In this case, i have no doubt that you may have dabbled with Win8 on a desktop, and found the Live Tiles innapropriate. Fair enough, but please refer to comment on Live Tile Metro.

By nickallison on 4 Aug 2012


They have a large brand in Europe.

Metro Cash & Carry: 717 shops in 29 countries

Real: 423 in 6 countries

MediaMarkt: 662 in 15 countries

Saturn: 240 in 12 countries

Galeria Kaufhof: 137 in 2 countries

Turnover 66.6 billion Euros.

I guess they are complaining, because they are in the computer hardware/software retail business...

It sounds a bit weak, but it isn't like the ViewSonic iPad case, Metro is still a large company doing well.

By big_D on 5 Aug 2012


Some lawyer, somewhere in this German company, has realised there is potentially big bucks to be made from MS. Metro has been used by MS for ages in relation to this OS so why, so close to final release, has this suddenly become an issue?
Simple, money to be made.

I'm guessing MS don't want to risk getting into court and have some judge decide that Windows 8 can't be sold with the "Metro" interface and therefore jeopardise launch.

In reality, nobody is ever going to confuse an OS interface with a retail outfit so this shouldn't be an issue. I'm sure the word metro was in place long before this German company ever existed. They cannot claim exclusivity of the word. Sure if another retail company was to use the word there would be an issue but, as the title of my post says, this is nothing more than pure opportunism. Its just a shame MS won't test their ridiculous claims.

By sskivington on 9 Aug 2012


Quite right that Microsoft should drop this name. I think everyone remembers Lotus Metro, by far and away the greatest personal organiser available in the days of DOS. Typical of Microsoft to try and piggy-back on Lotus' success (yeah, I'm talking 1-2-3 here).

Zorba Eisenhower

By bygwyg on 9 Aug 2012


Quite right that Microsoft should drop this name. I think everyone remembers Lotus Metro, by far and away the greatest personal organiser available in the days of DOS. Typical of Microsoft to try and piggy-back on Lotus' success (yeah, I'm talking 1-2-3 here).

Zorba Eisenhower

By bygwyg on 9 Aug 2012

Windows Live

Since the name Windows Live is being withdrawn, perhaps it can be re-purposed to replace the name Metro, since the new UI prides itself on its live-tiles feature, its live-synching of your data via Skydrive, etc.

On the other hand, iMetro sounds cute and catchy. Or iWin, since it probably will?

Do Metro AG stores sell window cleaning products? Or even windows? Now there's an opportunity for Microsoft to do a deal.

By fogtax on 9 Aug 2012


With Windows now being a Microsoft trademark does that means all of the glazing companies can now longer call that bit of glass we look out of a WINDOW ?

By roberttrebor on 10 Aug 2012


I've been 'reflecting' on this issue. I think they should call it 'London underground or the Tube', it's older than the Paris Metro, it's been reinvented umpteen times and it still doesn't work to the satisfaction of users.

By Gz_jlatty085a0e2 on 10 Aug 2012

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