Microsoft axes Metro name following trademark dispute

Microsoft is binning Metro branding for Windows Phone, Windows 8, and other related platforms, following trademark infringement complaints - thought to have been voiced by German company Metro AG - over the use of the name.

The moniker problem is primarily a marketing conundrum, it seems, with the look and feel of the software set to stay the same. Nevertheless, the tech giant has moved to instruct its employees, and developers in particular, to cease employing the Metro codename, according to internal memos which made their way to the Verge.

Microsoft has sought to play down the impact of the name change, contending that a re-brand was always a possibility.

"We have used Metro style as a codename during the product development cycle across many of our product lines," the company said in a statement.

"As we get closer to launch and transition from industry dialogue to a broad consumer dialogue we will use our commercial names," it added.

Metro is the name used to describe the new tile-based user interface Microsoft is rolling out. It is currently in place on the Windows Phone 7 mobile OS, and also features on Windows 8, which recently went to RTM preview mode.

Metro AG has so far refused to comment on the reports, with the latest communication leaks indicating that Microsoft's Windows marketing team is already "working on a replacement term" for the software, with an announcement expected imminently.

Until the new title is formally unveiled, Microsoft employees have been encouraged to refer to it as the "Windows 8 style UI" instead.

The news that Microsoft is to kill the Metro name follows its earlier decision to axe the Hotmail brand in favour of Outlook.com, a new, Metro-style - sorry, Redmond, "Windows 8-style" - webmail client.