Getting off the Metro

So last Thursday two Windows related events happen; one was Windows 8 Release to Manufacturer or RTM leaked online and the other were reports that Microsoft (for possible legal reasons) would stop using Metro to describe the new UI in Windows 8.

Now the RTM news is par for the course in the Windows world but the bigger news or non-news was Microsoft downplaying Metro. And for the next 48 hours, Metrogate was a trending topic on Twitter and the subject of many posts (like this one).

Now the debate around the move has centered on its effect with developers and whether it’ll hamper adoption amongst users.

I think part of the issue for why Metro is being moved to the basement has to do with developer confusion, user confusion, and a larger shift in talking about designing Windows applications.

(This is my theory and I’m sticking to it.)

Now The Next Web’s Alex Whilhelm  had the best possible explanation and Ed Bott had  the best it’s Bullshit response and as usual Mary Jo Foley and Tom Warren posted first.

So this is just my two cents.

I’m not going to defend the erasing of Metro, it’s sad. But I do understand it. For one its meaning was both confused and diluted. When I first heard of Metro it was the Metro Design Language and it was about the design ideas and principles behind the interface changes in Windows Phone. Fast forward to now and it describes both a specific style of application, a type of app, and the Run time its built on. People tend to forget in same time they mourn Metro they wrote many posts and stories on how they were confused by what Metro was supposed to be.

For example a Metro app and a Metro Styled program.

Second reason for Metro’s benching was to avoid the repeat of the above with consumers. Right now people are arguing that telling the difference between Windows and Windows RT is confusing, now add Metro to the mix. Maybe this was how tech enthusiasts talked about Windows 8, but I think Microsoft will try (hopefully) to just simplify it all.

Lastly, and this goes back to the developer side, I think Microsoft may have thought that Metro got in the way of talking about the shift in design in regard to Windows; and designing apps in general. Microsoft’s moves of late to adopt Metro and embracing design as a whole has lead to an interesting fork in the road. The Windows developer base has never been that focused on design (like the Other Guys) so Metro was fine. But for others I think the debate has been did they have to make Metro applications like what they saw.  I think Microsoft is trying to get people who build on the platform to think about design and not just about reproducing what they see. So Metro gets called a code word.   

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