Microsoft pulls Metro moniker over trademark dispute

By Juha Saarinen on Aug 3, 2012 9:21 AM
Filed under Mobility

Developers urged to change language.

Microsoft has urged third-party Windows 8 developers to remove all mentions of the word 'Metro' from applications and related material after a German retailer threatened to sue the software giant.

The moniker, used to identify the new tile-based user interface in Windows 8 and Windows Phone 7, has been used in marketing and other material for some time.

However, it could potentially conflict with the Germany-based company, Metro AG, which has threatened legal action over the issue.

'Metro' appears to still be in wide use across Microsoft websites as well as partner and developer sites.

In emails to developers, including one sighted by CRN sister iTnews, Microsoft prompted developers to replace mentions of 'Metro' with 'Windows 8-style UI' for Windows 8 applications, and 'New User Interface' when referring to the company's entire product line.

It is unclear how much of the naming could be removed from websites and marketing material ahead of the operating system's first launch to developers later this month.

It is set to be released to enterprises from September 1, and will be generally available on October 26.

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A spokesperson for Microsoft New Zealand declined to comment.

However, a US spokesman told Ars Technica that:

"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 dialogue to a broad consumer dialogue we will user our commercial names."

New Zealand development house Marker Metro, which styled as the world's first specialising in Windows 8-style interface apps, was one company affected by the late name change.

"Yes, we're very disappointed," practice lead Ben Gracewood told iTnews.

"Just when we were seeing some traction and understanding from the general public about what 'Metro' means, we get the rug pulled out.

"We hope that at the very least Microsoft comes up with a more concise description for 'apps specifically designed for Windows 8'. Perhaps 'Voldemort'? The UI design style that must not be named?"

Marker Metro developed the official Rugby World Cup 2011 app for Windows Phone and the 7Digital music store.

Gracewood said his development house — which could potentially also conflict with a Metro AG subsidiary, Metro Makro — may have to rebrand due to the name change.

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