Just in case you weren’t reading your Hacker News last week, you might have missed the news that Microsoft has decided to abandon the name “Metro” for its distinctive user interface that’s been used to power everything from Windows Phone 7, the new Xbox UI, the Windows Azure portal, and of course: Windows 8.
Suffice it to say, there were a lot of developers who were disappointed with the decision.
I thought it was rather spineless on Microsoft’s part to let Metro UI fade into the night – if Apple can spend $60 million putting an iPad trademark dispute to rest, then why wouldn’t Microsoft spend what it needs to keep the brand that’s heralding the new area of desktop and mobile application development on their flagship platforms.
So imagine our amusement today here at MarkedUp HQ when Erik reviewed the Windows Store “Before Your Sell Your App” guidelines and discovered this gem in the section regarding how to name your Win8 applications* (emphasis ours:)
Note Make sure your app name doesn’t include the word metro. Apps with a name that includes the word metro will fail certification and won’t be listed in the Windows Store.
Looks like our friends at MetroTwit and other popular ported WP7 applications (many of which include the word “Metro” in the title) are going to have to undergo a similar rebranding to “the New Windows UI” or whatever we’re calling Metro now.
The Metro brand is a unifying force for developers building on Windows Phone and WinRT – after years of being promoted heavily by Microsoft as the new design language for their consumer-facing developer platforms it’s become both popular and self-descriptive.
Stripping the name away has ramifications beyond muddying Microsoft’s message to developers – it cripples the developers themselves who wanted to identify themselves with and support the Metro brand. Imagine if Apple caved and banned every application that began with a lowercase “i” at the start of it – it’s as severe a blow as that for a nascent and upcoming platform.
Abandoning Metro was the wrong thing to do – it ultimately won’t impact the developer opportunity for Windows 8 or the consumer app experience itself, but it completely undermines both Microsoft’s and their developers’ abilities to succinctly differentiate their WinRT / Windows Phone properties apart from everything else.
*Look mid-way through the page.