Microsoft replacing Metro branding, denies trademark dispute

By on August 3, 2012, 1:09 PM

Microsoft is reportedly ditching the Metro branding to describe the tiled interface introduced with Windows Phone and central to Windows 8. Speculation started swirling yesterday afternoon and a leaked internal memo obtained by The Verge confirmed the change will come into effect very soon. The decision was apparently prompted by a potential trademark dispute “with an important European partner.”

The Windows team is "working on a replacement term" according to the memo, but until then employees and developers are advised to refer to the Metro style user interface as the "Windows 8 style UI."

German retailer Metro AG is believed the company at odds with Microsoft but so far they’ve declined to comment on the rumours. Microsoft for its part has come forward with a statement to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley denying the change is due to a trademark dispute, explaining: “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 dialog to a broad consumer dialog we will use our commercial names.”

Some believe Microsoft may simply be de-emphasizing Metro because of potential user confusion -- apps built for Windows RT are often referred to as Metro apps, while many applications designed for the traditional x86 desktop variant of Windows 8 (like the new Office 2013) also use elements of the Metro look and feel. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be reference to Metro in Windows 8 besides the ones in APIs for developers.

The trademark conflict theory seems to be gaining ground, however, especially after the leaked memo. Whatever the reason the decision seems a little rushed as Microsoft works with parners to release its Windows 8 operating system to the general public on October 26.

Image credit: istartedsomething

User Comments: 19

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gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

So Metro is supposed to be like Longhorn?

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

That sucks, this will mean more crappy Windows-related names. I really liked the Metro name.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

Metro sounded too British to me. I've never used the word before it came about in Win8.

I'm hoping more for "Windows Motion" menu or "Windows Wave" menu.

Kneep said:

I'd just call it "start screen" just like the good old "start button"

Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

@mario, call them Microsoft SmartTiles from now on

Guest said:

No matter what they call it, it will still be "Windows Crap" to me.

Guest said:

"Fugly" sounds good to me.

Guest said:

Classic its a Microsoft Culture. Stole it brand it and get away with it :-)

Gamesinner said:

That's OK it still sucks.

Guest said:

lol, perhaps the philippines should join in the "metro" fracas.

in southern philippines, there is a chain of retailer stores called gaisano, and least 1 branch is called metro gaisano for as long as I can remember.

if we go by first named entity, our metro gaisano will win.

(I'm thirty something so do the math :) )

noel24 said:

Why not rename it Subway, oh, no, those are those selling sandwiches, well, then, call It Underground, catchy name, oh, no EA has the rights probably, with NFS and all... M$ - You're f%#*ed...

Guest said:

Metro sounded to gay to me. Karma is a ***** though. Microsoft always accusing people of piracy and got caught doing it themselves.

Guest said:

Been testing out Windows 8 all day, it's great apart from the metro crap. It feels faster than Windows 7, somehow webpages load even faster in Firefox. If I could restore the start menu and ditch metro, this would be a great OS. Not worth paying to upgrade, but if it came preloaded on a new computer, sure.

Off to google how to uninstall this metro crap. :)

Guest said:

I was the previous guest... so I've come to the conclusion, Windows 8 sucks for desktops. Microsoft has gone out of their way to prevent you from removing metro crap. They have also removed the windows 7 search functionality that was in the start menu... this is not worth it. Formatting and going back to Windows 7 x64... wish I wouldn't have wasted my time. :(

ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

That sucks, this will mean more crappy Windows-related names. I really liked the Metro name.

Metro sounded too British to me. I've never used the word before it came about in Win8.

I'm hoping more for "Windows Motion" menu or "Windows Wave" menu.

Agreed Mario, Metro seemed much more creative than "Windows/Microsoft (fill in the blank)"

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

They can call it what they like, it will still be the known to me as simply "Useless". Oh you bought a new computer, did it come with Windows Useless UI? Oh, it did, well that sucks. If' you not a fan of Useless you can try Asinine, Ludicrous, Moronic, just need to play fill in the blanks. Find it funny how Metro is owned by this European partner. It's a local grocery store chain here in Quebec and our subway system is also refereed to as the Metro. Guess it's a good thing they have to change it, wouldn't want people riding the Metro on the way to Metro while using their tablets with Metro UI, some crazy next level physics shit is bound to happen.

Sphynx Sphynx said:

Ridiculous, why would they drop Metro name. You can't trademark a common word like Metro or copyright it, or the German company who is claiming copyright would be sued by the Paris Underground railway system which has been called Metro for much longer than claimed copyright.

Microsoft, grow a pair will you!

Guest said:

What I never got was why the word 'metro" was synonymous with "modern, clean, etc" in microsoft's vocabulary in the first place. Granted, english is not my first language, but personally, when I hear the word metro, the first thing that comes to my mind - and probably many Europeans as well - is subway (no, not the sandwich, you know, the mini electric trains that run underground). What that has to do with innovation and clutter free desktops is beyond me. But fine, lets forget about the train theme for a moment, I still cant link 'metro' and 'clean' in one sentence - last time I was in one (this was in LA), I saw a bum pee himself in drunken stupor while sleeping in a seat in the back of the cart. Is that the imagery microsoft is trying to promote here?

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

Microsoft, grow a pair will you!

I'm with you, when Apple renamed the iPhone OS to iOS it had to pay Cisco a bunch load of money because they owned that trademark, they knew it was the right name for the OS and decided it was worth it, I'm sure MS would have been able to pay for it although I'm sure MS's expending will be a little more conservative after their last quarter.

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