Metro (design language)
Metro is an internal code name of a typography-based design language created by Microsoft, originally for use in Windows Phone. A key design principle of Metro is better focus on the content of applications, relying more on typography and less on graphics ("content before chrome"). Early uses of the Metro principles began as early as Microsoft Encarta 95 and MSN 2.0, and later evolved into Windows Media Center and Zune. Later the principles of Metro were included in Windows Phone, Microsoft's website, the Xbox 360 dashboard update, and Windows 8.
"Metro" 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, 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. 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. Microsoft has begun integrating these elements of the design language into its other products, with direct influence being seen in newer versions of Windows Live Messenger, Live Mesh, and Windows 8.
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, 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. 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, 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."
Internally, Microsoft has compiled a list of principles considered core to the design language.
Close to the official launch date of Windows 8 (October 26, 2012), as more developers and Microsoft partners started working on creating new Metro applications, many websites with resources related to this topic have been created, including Microsoft's UX guidelines for Windows Store Apps.
Early response to Metro 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." 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."
The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDEA) awarded Windows Phone, which uses the UI, the "People's Choice Design" gold award as well as the "Best in Show" award. Isabel Ancona, the User Experience Consultant at IDEA, explained why Windows Phone won this award:
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.
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 screen of Windows 8 (which built upon Metro design language) and its previous version in Windows 7 and earlier. Recounting their pros and cons, Peter Bright concluded that the Start screen, though not devoid of problems, is a clear winner.
Legal issues 
In August 2012, rumors began circulating that one of Microsoft's retail partners, German company Metro AG, had threatened legal action against the software giant for infringing on the "Metro" trademark. A memo was sent out to developers and Microsoft employees to stop using the term "Metro" until a replacement term is established or the legal case is settled. Microsoft is temporarily referring to the design language as Modern UI. On August 9, 2012, it emerged that Microsoft was planning to use the term "Windows 8" to replace Metro in consumer marketing materials. The "Modern UI" term appears to be intended for developers who plan to build software based on Redmond's new design principles.
Currently, the term "Microsoft design language" is used on MSDN documentation when referring to the design language (since September 2012). Furthermore, in Microsoft's Build 2012 developer conference, the company also uses the "Microsoft design language" name.
See also 
- "Why Metro now rules at Microsoft". CNET. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "Metro UI Design Principles". Stephane Massey. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "Mike Kruzeniski – How Print Design is the Future of Interaction". Kruzeniski.com. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
- "Windows Phone 7 Series UI Design & Interaction Guide". March 18, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-09.
- "A Walkthrough the History of the Metro UI". Retrieved 2013-04-10.
- "Windows Phone Design System: Codenamed ‘Metro’" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-10-09.
- "Metro Design Language of Windows Phone 7". microsoft.com. Retrieved 2012-10-05.
- Browse Blackboard Home (2011-04-25). "Metro - Blackboard". Businessinsider.com. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- Long Zheng (14 Novemver 2007). "“Zegoe”, the new Zune font.". istartedsomething.com. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- "Windows Phone UI and Design Language". Retrieved 2010-10-09.
- From Transportation to Pixels, Windows team blog, 2011-02-16
- "Metro Design Language of Windows Phone 7 | Microsoft Design .toolbox". Microsoft.com. Retrieved 2011-09-08.
- Topolsky, Joshua (17 September 2009). "Zune HD review". Aol. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- "Zune HD 64GB Review". CNET. CBS Interactive. 17 September 2009. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- Warren, Tom (18 September 2011). "Windows Phone wins IDEA 2011 – people’s choice design award". WinRumors. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- "Windows Phone 7". Industrial Designers Society of America. 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
- Bright, Peter (25 April 2012). "Windows 8 on the desktop—an awkward hybrid". Ars Technica. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
- Bradley, Tony (4 August 2012). "Windows 8 'Metro' Is Dead, But UI Still Needs a Name". PCWorld. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
- Microsoft officlally renaming Metro UI to Modern UI. The Register, August 1, 2012. Retrieved on August 11, 2012.
- "Make great Windows Store apps". MSDN. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- "Design case study: iPad to Windows Store app". MSDN. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
- "Guidelines for typography". MSDN. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
- "Roadmap for Windows Store apps using DirectX and C++". MSDN. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
- "The Microsoft design language". Channel 9 (Microsoft). Retrieved 2012-11-01.
- Mary Jo Foley. "Microsoft Design Language: The newest official way to refer to 'Metro'". Retrieved 2012-11-01.
- UX guidelines for Windows Store apps, Microsoft
- User Experience Design Guidelines for Windows Phone, Microsoft