I apologize for yet another Microsoft rant this week, but this is just incredible. Days after Windows 8’s release to manufacturing, Microsoft renames Metro to “New User Interface”! Apparently someone just discovered that Germany, one of the company’s biggest markets and primary localization targets, is home to wholesale & retail giant Metro AG (2011 sales: €66.7 billion). How could Microsoft’s lawyers and especially its German division possibly not have been aware of that?
Now Microsoft claims Metro was just a code name that was always supposed to be replaced by a commercial name. This is blatantly false, I’ve seen plenty of Microsoft code names over the years and they were never used in official product presentations like Metro was. Even Ed Bott laughs at this spin, and he’s usually one of the biggest Microsoft fans around.
A decision like this, made at the same time that Windows 8 is released to manufacturing, is terribly late. I just checked the Windows Store in the Release Preview (I don’t have RTM code yet). A quick search turns up 40 apps, or just under 10% of the store’s current contents, that include Metro in their name or description.
Microsoft, you owe a more detailed explanation to those developers who have been working with you for nearly a year now. Lame public statements that are transparently untrue make the problem worse, not better. It’s especially awkward coming on the heels of the terrible communication about Silverlight and its role in the Windows development ecosystem.
Unsurprisingly, good old Scott Barnes is in troll heaven.
In closing Microsoft has yet again screwed up and like all its previous screw-ups it’s yet again up to the community to dig in deep, sigh and clean up after the company’s amateur developer relations.
After Microsoft’s Surface reveal I thought the company had a solid plan after all, but this latest display of corporate incompetence makes me dubious once more. What else did go wrong that we don’t know about yet?
2012-11-01: Three months on, Microsoft still can’t figure out just what the new “design language” should be called, so most people just reverted to calling it Metro.