Ever since we heard the first rumors about Microsoft dropping the “Metro” moniker for its new touch interface and its app, there has been a lot of confusion about what the new interface should be called. Is it the new Windows UI? Windows 8-style UI? The modern UI? Are these Windows 8 apps or Windows Store app? Is it still Metro and all the rumors were false? Even just a day before the launch of Windows 8, most people still don’t know what to call it (and I just spent most of the day in briefings with Microsoft partners ahead of the launch). To clear things up, I asked Microsoft for its own official guidance today (because inside of Microsoft, people are using different names as well).
So here is the official guidance from Microsoft according to a company spokesperson: when you are referring to the user interface, it’s the “new Windows user interface (UI)” or just “Windows user interface.” When talking about apps, it’s “Windows apps” or “Windows 8 apps.”
Does that really clear up the confusion, though? I’m not sure. After all, except for Windows RT for ARM tablets, all the legacy Windows apps still run on Windows 8 for x86, too. Even in the Windows Store, there are plenty of old-school desktop apps, after all. These can’t be bought directly from the store, but they are still listed there with screenshots and links to their developers websites.
Why Microsoft changed the name still remains a bit of a mystery and even now, a number of groups within Microsoft still use the old name (today’s Skype announcement just talked about the “modern design.”
The big advantage of the old “Metro” name was that it highlighted the fact that these were apps for the touch interface and not the desktop. Just like consumers will likely be confused by the difference between Windows RT and Windows 8 – which will both run on very similar machines, after all – this whole confusion around Metro just isn’t helping Microsoft right in the middle of one of its most crucial transition periods.
Image credit: Daniel X. O’Neil