[This post has been updated with the information that Microsoft says apps with “Metro” in their names can continue to use those names unless someone contacts Microsoft to claim infringement. Microsoft has removed the note about not certifying Windows 8 apps with “Metro” in their names.]
Apparently the ban on using the designation “Metro” to refer to Windows 8’s distinctive tile-based UI doesn’t apply just internally to Microsoft. It applies to third-party apps as well.
The clean tile design that’s front and center in Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Xbox 360 and other Microsoft offerings had been referred to as “Metro” by the company for months now. But Microsoft’s legal department apparently put the kibosh on that after a trademark dispute. Recent updates featuring the design has been referred to by the company as “modern.”
Microsoft’s Windows 8 Dev Center still has a section called “Metro style apps,” with tips on developing apps in that style. Within that section are guidelines for naming apps, including this 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.”
What’s unclear is whether that note has been there for months now or whether it’s a recent addition. (I have a query in to Microsoft about that.)
Long Zheng, the blogger behind IStartedSomething, is also a creator of MetroTwit, a Twitter client for Windows. He notes that a preview version of MetroTwit for Windows 8 has been available in the Windows Store for a while now and that he’s seeking legal advice before making a decision on any possible name change.
Microsoft has still not issued an explanation for what went on/is going on with the Metro naming issue beyond its earlier statement: “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 dialog to a broad consumer dialog we will use our commercial names.”
[Update 4:21 p.m.: According to a Microsoft spokeswoman, the note banning the use of the word “Metro” in app names has been part of Microsoft’s certification policies, which appear to have been in place since the release of Windows 8 Release Preview in May.
That note banning use of “Metro” in an app name, by the way, has now disappeared, as noticed by The Verge. The Microsoft spokeswoman said that note was removed today because the company “realized the current wording was causing confusion.”
Microsoft also said apps with “Metro” in their names can continue to use those names unless someone contacts Microsoft to claim infringement.]
(Image of Windows 8 Start screen from Microsoft)