Seem’s Microsoft has a case of the Metro’s

Keeping score on the failure rate of Microsoft Marketing is getting to be a sickness of mine. The latest bug has to be by far the clear and most defining moment in all of Microsoft fails.

Microsoft would appreciate if you stopped using the word “metro” as just like that drunk racist at party who tells a really bad joke and then follows with “what, don’t be so sensitive, I was only kidding..” they in turn are hereby stating out loud “it was only a code word, it was never meant to be a brand”.

It’s times like this I wish I could have The Daily Show staff on standby and we’d then queue up a montage of every Microsoft staffer on stage saying the word “Metro” in comparison to the word “Windows”. No doubt you will see a score tick over with more usage of the word Metro than I’d argue Windows.

It’s not their fault, it was the company that is giving them the legal eye’s fault.

Yeah you could throw the company in question who would argue Metro is their trademark under a bus here. You could do it easily enough with the right amount of PR spin, but, anyone who’s been a Product Manager for more than five minutes in Microsoft would be able to tell you swiftly that you never ever ever name something in Microsoft without LCA running trademark searches against it.

Exhibit A  – Silverlight’s Out of Browser. When we came up with the feature of offline Silverlight / Desktop usage (aka the feature that would later kill Silverlight) we agonised for weeks over what to call it. We tried out names like “RIA Desktop” and a whole bunch of left field names that had no real meaning. Each time we posted a probable name for the feature we had LCA verify we wouldn’t get sued over it (given the US is a sue happy legal system).

Unfortunately the ass hats in the Microsoft Marketing team(s) didn’t get the memo that most if not all Junior Product Manager(s) get when they first join – You don’t name a puppy unless LCA approves it.

Either LCA screwed up here or it was Microsoft Marketing (I somehow think it’s the later).

Where to from here, how do you undo a brand?

metro abuseGiven its a fairly fresh and clearly abused name it may stand a chance of being deleted from the minds of millions of .NET developers worldwide. I doubt it will get a high five for its replacement name though, as “Windows-style” kind of looks like the default case in a long list of good idea switch statements, but none the less “Windows Style” it is.

I feel however for people like the MetroTwit team who have worked quite hard to claw their way above all the other twitter client clones to establish a unique brand. I guess Long and his team will need to hatch out a plan around “WinTwit” or something along those lines if they wish to comply with Microsoft’s “oops” moment.

In closing Microsoft has yet again screwed up and like all its previous screw-ups  its left yet again up to the community to dig in deep, sigh and cleanup after the company’s amateur developer relations).

At some point with all those billions Microsoft has been making they will actually hire someone with Marketing experience but point in case they hired me as a Product Manager for the company and I had none!

That thought will fester.


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  • Jon Rimmer

    I think you’ll find that should be Windows8StyleUITwit. Catchy. Reminds me of my win32 API programming days.

    Rumours has it, rejected code-names for what became Metro included Cocacolo, Disneyo, and Timewarnero.

  • peter

    They should rename it Claytons, the interface you have when you’re not having metro.

    Alternatively, the interface you have when Microsoft marketing has drunk everything that isn’t nailed down.

    FWIW if anybody gets bent out of shape, I am not trying to say the entire OS is a knockoff or something similarly derogatory.

  • http://www.tonicodes.net/blog/ Toni Petrina

    How can this be a problem, Metro AG does not deal in UI, tablets or anything similar. I thought that trademarks are registered for certain areas and this would not bring in customer confusion.

  • Chris Nahr

    I was wondering the same thing. Regardless, Metro AG is a huge wholesaler in one of Microsoft’s biggest markets and primary localization areas, so if there was a possible conflict it’s amazingly incompetent to just not notice until right before product launch.

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  • Moyashi

    Yep. I had a similar reaction upon seeing this news a couple days ago: “Here we go again…” Given my hunch that developer confidence in the MSFT offering is at a considerable low, this just reeks of continued undependability and softness where one would prefer solid ground. At this point I just want MSFT to utterly fail and get out of the UI business; because they are just muddying the waters and distracting from getting sh*t done both now and in the presumably OpenSourceWeb-ruled future.

    If MSFT have a lot riding on “Windows-Style” (snigger) then they are in serious trouble. It just apes a major trope of web design. I do not need a single MSFT product or service to easily achieve “Windows-Style” in 10 minutes with any text-editor and any browser.

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