Ever since Microsoft revealed Windows 8 to the world, we have referred to the new interface as “Metro.” It was assumed that the name would stick since we’re this close to launch and Microsoft haven’t announced a change yet. That assumption has turned out wrong.
The Verge got a hold of an internal memo that said the Metro name would be replaced this week. It seems kind of abrupt since Windows 8 has gone gold so it remains to be seen if any references to Metro will be removed from the final product shipping out on October 26.
So why the sudden change? As it turns out, the Microsoft ran into a little trademark problem with the name. In the memo, Microsoft says the change came about after “discussions with an important European partner.” All signs for now are pointing to that partner being Metro AG, a German company.
Microsoft is sticking to the line that Metro was always just a code name. In the same vein of Project Natal being later named Kinect, Microsoft has relied heavily on code names for their products. What makes this change so strange is that it doesn’t seem premeditated. Microsoft was using Metro in advertising and encouraging developers to use the name in apps. Why change it for any reason other than a trademark dispute?
As for now, it seems that Microsoft is scrambling to come up with a new name for the interface. Employees have been told to use the name “Windows 8 style UI” until they can come up with something better. A new name should be revealed this weekend, but I think I have a few ideas. How about “unnecessary” or “keep it off of desktops?” They might not be as catchy as Metro, but I think they clearly express the nature of the UI.