Let me ask you this. When do you think the use of Metro style started by Microsoft? Most of the people will say Windows 8 or Windows Phone 7, but that’s absolutely wrong. Myth 1, busted. Myth 2 – Does Microsoft own the trademark of “Metro” word? Not at all. We’ll talk about that later. Believe me, that’s something interesting. For now, lets assume the design you see in Windows 8 and Windows Phones is Metro user-interface. So, what is metro style UI?
It is officially known as the Windows 8 style UI (I’ll explain that later), which was created by Microsoft. What might surprise you is, it is not used in Windows Phones or Windows 8 for the first time. It is in use since MSN 2.0 and Microsoft Encarta 95, in time figures, its mid 1990’s. It was also used in Windows Media Center and Zune. And finally it evolved to use in Windows Phones. Obviously, it wasn’t in the same design since the beginning. Otherwise, you’d have noticed that easily. So, how will you define the user-interface in one line? Let’s take a look at what Wikipedia has to say…
Windows 8 style UI is a typography-based design language created by Microsoft, originally for use in Windows Phone 7. A key design principle of Metro is better focus on the content of applications, relying more on typography and less on graphics.
In simple words, it is designed keeping in mind the content, swipe movement and of course, tiles. The screenshot below clearly shows what it looks like. It’s a screenshot of Windows 8, and you can see the basic structure. It consists of some beautiful coloured tiles, and content/text in them.
Now, you know what is the Metro UI and when it started. Only two things left, what on Earth inspired the design and public response towards the user-interface. Oh, and the interesting thing about the name and conflicts related to it. Microsoft’s design team said that the user-interface is inspired by signs at public transport system, like Metro stations, etc. Apparently, we now know from where the name arise. In the interface, Microsoft uses font based on the Segoe font family, which is licensed to Microsoft itself.
I don’t know (yet) what you think about Windows 8, Windows Phones and the colourful tiles, but I personally like it very much. Though, I’m still using Android – there is a reason about that. Windows Phone is still new, and does not have many apps and other cool stuff like iOS and Android. Most importantly, it’s still developing. Not much time ago, when Windows Phone 8 OS was announced, Microsoft made it very clear that the handsets which are in market right now CANNOT support all of the features of the operating system. What does it mean? It means that the last update the current devices will be getting is, version 7.8 not v8.0. So, buying a WP7.5 device now, is a foolish decision.
Whatsoever, the UI is still a reason to buy WP based devices, at least for me. What about you? Let us know what are your views about the Metro Style UI in comments.
OOPS! I should not call it “Metro”. Microsoft does not own any right to call the design “Metro”. Reportedly, a German retail company Metro AG has the “Metro” trademark. Microsoft said, Metro was just a code name for our design language. BBC News recently reported that Microsoft is working on a new name, until then Microsoft has advised its developers to use “Windows 8 style UI” instead of Metro style UI for the tiles shaped interface. There is no hint about the official name yet. But we can expect a fresh name, which does not infring any copyright or trademark, before the launch of Windows 8, or even before that.