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Microsoft's Branding Nightmare

Metro? Modern? Windows 8? What's going on here?

First, word comes that Metro's out as a designation meaning "applications built for the version of Windows 8 that runs on ARM processors". Apparently, there was a partner conflict that Microsoft didn't want to turn ugly. But here's the thing: Metro's been used for years now to refer to the new UI. My question: why didn't anyone discover this potential conflict before? Big, huge, Jupiter-sized epic fail by marketing or someone else at Microsoft. My prediction: heads, more than one, are going to roll over this -- in fact, they may have already.

Since the initial revelation that Metro's gone, several more trial balloons have been floated. The first was simply replacing Metro with "Windows 8". That's a tough one, however, since Windows 8 is an operating system, and not a UI. Can you see the potential confusion coming? Windows 8 apps on Windows 9? Windows 10? One shudders at the thought.

The latest rumors floating around the Web, from Mary Jo Foley and others, is that "Windows 8" may be out, and "Modern" may be in as the UI designation. This makes more sense, since it would once again be referring specifically to a UI, and not an OS. I have to say, however, that Modern doesn't exactly thrill my toes as a name. Sorta bland, blah, un-memorable.

I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft's not done. It seems the company isn't sure what to do now, so they're flailing about, throwing name spaghetti at the wall and seeing what's likely to stick. Given the name-game musical chairs now being played, it seems that this is a pretty big deal in Redmond. And indeed, it should be. Windows 8 is a critical product, acting as the first bridge between the traditional software/OS combo and the mobile era that demands new software and nimble OSes. Getting the branding right is important, since those products will be competing with the dominant brands of Apple and Android.

In other words, I'd be surprised if the name ends up being Modern or Windows 8. This may not be settled until Build.

Posted by Keith Ward on 08/10/2012 at 1:15 PM

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Reader Comments:

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Tom Anderson

Why don't they just license the rights to Metro from the German company?

Fri, Aug 17, 2012

More 'design by committee' culture at Microsoft. Say what you want about Job's 'dictator' culture, it didn't produce mediocrity.

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 Ed Colorado

It seems like improv theater, but the naming is the least of their problems.

Thu, Aug 16, 2012

I like the 'metropolitan' idea. 'Modern' as a name would suck. In 4 years when the next big thing happens, are you going to stop using 'Modern' apps and start using 'Post-Modern'? That just doesn't make sense. Why not use something like 'W-ARM' or Windows ARM. I mean it's not like the idea of apps is really a 'hot' new idea. It is really just 'warm' by the time good ole Redomd gets around to it.

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 Matt Ohio

Fact of the matter is that as a consumer, if the name is actually going to influence whether or not you purchase a Windows 8 powered tablet, you have probably already setup camp in the Apple arena. The only branding that matters is the name of their physical device. Are folks going to go around saying they bought a Windows 8 tablet, or a Metro tablet, or whatever??? No - they are going to say they bought a Surface.

Wed, Aug 15, 2012

What?! Microsoft Marketing not doing homework? Say it ain't so? Just a note - have you ever downloaded the Office 2010 trial? They can't even choose the right words for end user marketing. If they can't even find blatent issues with the English Language they put in their own products, how do you expect them to find out something as obscure as a POTENTIAL conflict?

Sun, Aug 12, 2012

Solution is easy. Make it Metropolitan and, if Americans are anything like Australians, they'll shorten it to Metro.

Sun, Aug 12, 2012

Microsoft has a long history of not googling I guess those names didn't show up in bing! Azure, Silverlight, XP, even bing!

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 CanaDave Canada

I never really liked that 'Metro Style Apps' name anyway...it made me think of 'metrosexual apps'...they should just call it Apps for Windows like everybody else calls them Apps for iPhones, Apps for Android...just Apps.

Fri, Aug 10, 2012 Marwan

Marwaneft VSLive @ Redmond and on the latest VS2012 build, it says windows store app instead of metro....

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