World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Metro (design language)

Article Id: WHEBN0028305156
Reproduction Date:

Title: Metro (design language)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10, Comparison of Microsoft Windows versions, Flat design, Windows Server 2012
Collection: Graphical User Interfaces, Touch User Interfaces, Windows 8, Windows Phone
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Metro (design language)

The Music+Video hub on Windows Phone features a web implementation of Microsoft's design language

Metro is the codename of a typography-based design language by Microsoft.[1] A key design principle is better focus on the content of applications, relying more on typography and less on graphics ("content before chrome"). Early examples of Metro principles can be found in Encarta 95 and MSN 2.0.[2][3] The design language evolved in Windows Media Center and Zune and was formally introduced as "Metro" during the unveiling of Windows Phone 7. Under the name Microsoft design language,[1] it has since been incorporated into several of the company's other products, including the Xbox 360 system software, Xbox One, Windows 8, Windows Phone, and[4][5]


  • History 1
  • Principles 2
  • Reception 3
    • Before Windows 8 3.1
    • After Windows 8 3.2
  • Name change 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The design language is based on the design principles of classic Swiss graphic design. Early glimpses of this style could be seen in Windows Media Center for Windows XP Media Center Edition,[6] which favored text as the primary form of navigation. This interface carried over into later iterations of Media Center. In 2006, Zune refreshed its interface using these principles. Microsoft designers decided to redesign the interface and with more focus on clean typography and less on UI chrome.[7] These principles and the new Zune UI were carried over to Windows Phone (from which much was drawn for Windows 8). The Zune Desktop Client was also redesigned with an emphasis on typography and clean design that was different from the Zune's previous Portable Media Center based UI. Flat colored "live tiles" were introduced into the design language during the early Windows Phone's studies.


Segoe UI font in Windows 7 (top) and Windows 8 (bottom)
Metro design principle behind the Start screen in Windows 8 and Xbox One that is also used in Windows Store, Xbox Music and Xbox Video: Tiles represent atomic units of information

Microsoft's design team cites as an inspiration for the design language signs commonly found at public transport systems; for instance, those found on the King County Metro transit system,[8] which serves the greater Seattle area where Microsoft has its headquarters. The design language places emphasis on good typography and has large text that catches the eye. Microsoft sees the design language as "sleek, quick, modern" and a "refresh" from the icon-based interfaces of Windows, Android, and iOS.[9] All instances use fonts based on the Segoe font-family designed by Steve Matteson at Agfa Monotype and licensed to Microsoft. For the Zune, Microsoft created a custom version called Zegoe UI,[10] and for Windows Phone Microsoft created the "Segoe WP" font-family. The fonts mostly differ only in minor details. More obvious differences between Segoe UI and Segoe WP are apparent in their respective numerical characters. The Segoe UI in Windows 8 had obvious differences – similar to Segoe WP. Characters with notable typographic changes included 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, I, and Q.

Microsoft designed the design language specifically to consolidate groups of common tasks to speed up usage. It achieves this by excluding superfluous graphics and instead relying on the actual content to function as the main UI. The resulting interfaces favour larger hubs over smaller buttons and often feature laterally scrolling canvases. Page titles are usually large and consequently also take advantage of lateral scrolling.

Animation plays a large part. Microsoft recommends consistent acknowledgement of transitions, and user interactions (such as presses or swipes) by some form of natural animation or motion. This aims to give the user the impression of an "alive" and responsive UI with "an added sense of depth."[11][12]


Before Windows 8

Early response to the language was generally positive. In a review of the Zune HD, Engadget said, "Microsoft continues its push towards big, big typography here, providing a sophisticated, neatly designed layout that's almost as functional as it is attractive."[13] CNET complimented the design language, saying, "it's a bit more daring and informal than the tight, sterile icon grids and Rolodex menus of the iPhone and iPod Touch."[14]

At its IDEA 2011 Ceremony, the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) gave Windows Phone 7, which uses the UI, its "Gold Interactive" award, its "People's Choice Award", and a "Best in Show" award.[15][16] Isabel Ancona, the User Experience Consultant at IDSA, explained why Windows Phone won:[17]

The innovation here is the fluidity of experience and focus on the data, without using traditional user interface conventions of windows and frames. Data becomes the visual elements and controls. Simple gestures and transitions guide the user deeper into content. A truly elegant and unique experience.

After Windows 8

With the arrival of Windows 8, the operating system's user interface and its use of the design language drew generally negative critical responses. On 25 August 2012, Peter Bright of Ars Technica reviewed the preview release of Windows 8, dedicating the first part of the review to a comparison between the Start menu designs used by Windows 8 and Windows 7. Recounting their pros and cons, Peter Bright concluded that the Start menu in Windows 8 (dubbed Start screen), though not devoid of problems, was a clear winner. However, he concluded that Windows 8's user interface was frustrating and that the various aspects of the user interface did not work well together.[18] Woody Leonhard was even more critical when he said, "From the user's standpoint, Windows 8 is a failure – an awkward mishmash that pulls the user in two directions at once."[19]

Some critics argue that Microsoft's decision to ditch Aero is the result of a conscious effort to reduce usage of system graphics processing unit (GPU) resources[20] and to prolong battery life, in order to target the tablet market rather than its traditional desktop user base.[21][22] In addition to the changes to the Start menu, Windows 8 takes a more modal approach with its use of full-screen apps that steer away from reliance on the icon-based desktop interface. In doing so, however, Microsoft has shifted its focus away from multitasking and business productivity.[23]

Name change

In August 2012, The Verge announced that an internal memorandum had been sent out to developers and Microsoft employees announcing the decision to "discontinue the use" of the term "Metro" because of "discussions with an important European partner", and that they were "working on a replacement term".[24] Technological news outlets Ars Technica,[25] TechRadar,[26] CNET,[27] Engadget[28] and IDG's Network World[29] and mainstream press The New York Times[30] and the BBC[31] published that the partner mentioned in the memo could be one of Microsoft's retail partners, German company Metro AG, as the name had the potential to infringe on their "Metro" trademark. Microsoft later stated that the reason for de-emphasizing the name was not related to any current litigation, and that "Metro" was an internal project codename.[32]

Alexandra Chang of Wired suggested that Microsoft should drop use of a separate name altogether and use "Windows 8" as descriptor.[4]

In September 2012, "Microsoft design language" was adopted as the official name for the design style.[1][33] The term was used on Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) documentation[34][35][36][37] and at the 2012 Build conference to refer to the design language.[1][38]

In a related change, Microsoft dropped use of the phrase "Metro-style apps" to refer to Windows Runtime-based applications developed according to the design language; Microsoft temporarily used "Modern apps" before starting to use "Windows Store apps" and "Windows 8 apps".[33]


  1. ^ a b c d Foley, Mary Jo. "'"Microsoft Design Language: The newest official way to refer to 'Metro.  
  2. ^ Green, Jay (8 February 2012). "Why Metro now rules at Microsoft".  
  3. ^ Massey, Stephane (15 February 2012). "Metro Ui Design Principles".  
  4. ^ a b Chang, Alexandra (8 August 2012). "Microsoft Doesn't Need a Name for Its User Interface".  
  5. ^ Kruzeniski, Mike (11 April 2011). "How Print Design is the Future of Interaction".  
  6. ^ Lefevers, Jason (15 September 2013). "A Walkthrough the History of the Metro UI". Windows Phone Metro.  
  7. ^ "'"Windows Phone Design System: Codenamed 'Metro (PDF). Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  8. ^ "Design Language of Windows Phone 7". .toolbox.  
  9. ^ Hamburger, Ellis (27 April 2011). "Metro". Blackboard. Business Insider. Retrieved 3 November 2011. 
  10. ^ Zheng, Long (14 November 2007). Zegoe", the new Zune font""". i started something.  
  11. ^ Roberts, Chad; Shum, Albert; Smuga, Michael (15 March 2010). "Windows Phone UI and Design Language".  
  12. ^ Kruzeniski, Mike (17 February 2011). "From Transportation to Pixels". Windows Phone Developer Blog.  
  13. ^ Topolsky, Joshua (17 September 2009). "Zune HD review".  
  14. ^ "Zune HD 64GB Review".  
  15. ^ Warren, Tom (18 September 2011). "Windows Phone wins IDEA 2011 – people's choice design award". WinRumors. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "IDEA 2011 Best in Show". Industrial Designers Society of America. 23 September 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2014. 
  17. ^ "Windows Phone 7". Industrial Designers Society of America. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  18. ^ Bright, Peter (25 April 2012). "Windows 8 on the desktop—an awkward hybrid".  
  19. ^ Leonhard, Woody (15 August 2012). "Windows 8 review: Yes, it's that bad". Infoworld. Retrieved 12 November 2013. 
  20. ^ "Microsoft to drop Aero from Windows 8 user interface". Forbes. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  21. ^ "Windows 8 Release Preview: RIP, Aero (2003-2012)". Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  22. ^ "Microsoft drops 'Aero Glass' user interface in Windows 8". Wired. 21 May 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  23. ^ "Windows 8's done, time to worry". Redmondmag. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  24. ^ Warren, Tom (2 August 2013). "Exclusive: Microsoft's Metro branding to be replaced 'this week' according to internal memo".  
  25. ^ "Microsoft: "Metro" out, "Windows 8-style UI" in, amid rumors of a trademark dispute". Ars Technica. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  26. ^ "Microsoft ditching 'Metro' name for Windows 8 amid trademark fears". TechRadar. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  27. ^ "Why did Microsoft kill the name 'Metro'?". CNET News. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  28. ^ "Microsoft downplays Metro design name, might face a lawsuit over all that street lingo". Engadget. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  29. ^ "Source confirms Microsoft abandoned Metro due to trademark gaffe". IDG. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  30. ^ Microsoft Drops Metro Name for New Product Look, retrieved 24 September 2013 
  31. ^ "Microsoft to drop 'Metro' name for Windows".  
  32. ^ Mary Jo Foley. "Is 'Metro' now a banned word at Microsoft?".  
  33. ^ a b "Microsoft finally comes clean(er) on post-Metro naming plans".  
  34. ^ "Make great Windows Store apps".  
  35. ^ "Design case study: iPad to Windows Store app".  
  36. ^ "Guidelines for typography".  
  37. ^ "Roadmap for Windows Store apps using DirectX and C++".  
  38. ^ "The Microsoft design language".  

External links

  • Modern Design at Microsoft
  • UX guidelines for Windows Store apps on MSDN
  • Design Guidelines for Windows Phone on MSDN
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.