Since Microsoft first showed off Windows 8 last year, the company has consistently referenced the operating system's dual interfaces - the standard, Windows desktop with which we're all familiar and the more mobile-friendly Metro-style option that replaces icons with apps.
"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," a Microsoft spokeswoman said in a statement today.
News of the switch was first reported yesterday by The Verge, which said Microsoft was notifying its developers not to use the word "Metro" within their apps and swap that term for "New User Interface."
Despite the insistence from Redmond that Metro is simply a code name that it always planned to phase out, there are reports that the move was prompted by a trademark challenge from Germany-based Metro AG.
Metro AG did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Verge later pointed to an internal memo from Microsoft to its employees, which said that "discussions with an important European partner" prompted it to ditch the Metro moniker.
"More than just an app platform, Metro style is a design philosophy that helps you build attractive, easy-to-use apps that will delight your customers with their intuitive and common interaction model," the guide said.
Common principles associated with Metro-type apps, according to Microsoft, include: fast and fluid; support for multiple states; support for the right contracts; live tiles; and settings and data that roam through the cloud.
The news comes several days after Microsoft released Windows 8 to manufacturers. It will roll out to several other groups in the coming weeks before its general availability on Oct. 26.
Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc