I’m having a distinct sense of deja vu here, but Microsoft is requesting developers to not call the typography-based design language formally known as Metro, uh, Metro, but to call it the ‘Windows 8 style UI’, due to possible legalities regarding a European company’s trademark on the name.
The company grumbling about the trademark infringement, mere months away from a major product launch in which said product has been using the trademarked word for years (Zune anyone? That was 2006), is not currently known, but suspected to be German retailer Metro AG. Here was I, thinking Metro was a Metropolitan Railway or Mass Transit system.
Over at The Verge, someone has seen an internal memo regarding the issue, stating that “discussions with an important European partner” led to the decision to “discontinue the use” of the Metro branding. As speculation increased, Microsoft made a statement to the press:
"We have usedÂ 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."
This effectively means that a new name will be announced shortly. Ideas anyone?
There may be reasons why Microsoft has been able to use the term Metro for so long without complication, it has always been an internal code-name for the project. With the release of Windows 8, it will become public facing and a commercial name for the user interface – much like Windows Aero, thus may cause brand awareness issues.
This is not the first time a Microsoft product has come under litigation over something as simple as a name. Vista caused issues from a software house and a television channel.
We will just have to wait and see if there will be any name changes, as everything is about as clear as mud at the moment. It’s just ironic that this is cropping up now, just as Microsoft released Windows 8 to manufacturing. Who knows, maybe we’ll be using the Windows Flat interface – but unlikely.