Microsoft says Metro apps are now "Windows 8 Store apps" -- is this the worst branding mistake of all time?

It's official: The apps once called Metro apps are now formally called "Windows 8 Store apps" by Microsoft. Along with being one of the worst branding moves of all time, the new name is misleading.

Gregg Keizer reports that at Microsoft's BUILD developer's conference Will Tschumy, a principal user experience advisor for Microsoft, said that the term "Windows 8 Store app" is now Microsoft's preferred name for apps that are written specifically to run on Windows 8.

Originally, the apps were called Metro apps because the new Windows 8 interface itself was called Metro. After dropping the Metro name due to a trademark dispute with a German company, various groups within Microsoft began calling the new interface and its apps "Modern," "Modern UI-style" and "Windows 8-style." Now, though, the formal name for the apps is "Windows 8 Store apps." But as Keizer points out, even though Microsoft says that "Windows 8 Store apps" is the proper name, Microsoft referred to "Windows store app" instead 23 times in the BUILD session descriptions.

The name Windows 8 Store apps doesn't exactly trip off the tongue lightly, does it? But it has other problems beyond its awkward name. First off, it's inaccurate. The Windows 8-specific apps that ship with Windows 8, such as People, Calendar, Mail, and so on, are built directly into the operating system, they're not gotten from the Windows Store. So that means that plenty of "Windows 8 Store apps" in fact aren't really Windows 8 Store apps, because they're baked right into Windows 8 software and don't need to be downloaded from the Windows 8 store.

The name also doesn't solve the problem of what to call the interface once known as Metro. Is it "Modern?" "Modern UI-style?" "Windows 8-style?" Microsoft isn't saying.

The problem goes deeper than being merely a matter of nomenclature. It gets to the core of the problem of having a single operating system with two separate interfaces. If Microsoft remains confused about what to call the new interface, imagine how users feel.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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