Metro

Prepare to say farewell to Metro UI

Microsoft has decided to leave the 'Metro' branding for its new user interface on the battlefield with Metro AG and work on a fitting replacement. The European retailer has reportedly claimed the term "Metro" as trademark, which has led to the software giant looking at alternatives. According to ZDNet sources, Microsoft will be using 'Windows 8' instead. Metro is dead. Long live Windows 8, or so it seems.

We had a number of interesting suggestions from our readers (almost 500 comments on a previous article) who took a 15 minutes time-out to think up effective and ingenious replacements. There were some humorous ideas as well as plain awesome, but Windows 8 certainly wasn't at the top of the list by any means. We checked through all comments and even started up a poll for readers to vote for their favourite Metro replacement.

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With the news coming reported last week that Microsoft is in the process of abandoning the name ‘Metro’ to describe their unifying new user interface, we asked you what they should rename it?

Of course your choice will have no bearing on the matter—so we think—but it is still fun to see if we can out-do Microsoft in this area. And knowing Microsoft’s past, it should not be too hard.

The Windows Phone community responded with nearly 450 comments with each one often containing multiple entries for a new Metro name. We parsed those names and chose the top six from the list of which we thought sounded good or had positive feedback from fellow commenters.  Those top six entries are...

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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and that’s what we seem to have here at the Home Depot. According to one of our readers, Nate B., at least one of their stores has this new kiosk on display.

The obelisk looks a lot like a giant Windows Phone that’s been repositioned for the Home Depot’s uses although it retains a very Metro-Tile look and feel. Heck, the tiles even flip to reveal more info!

No word if these are going elsewhere or if Microsoft is involved but we do like the idea of Metro (or whatever it will be called) spreading around. 

Check the video of it in action after the break and don’t forget, you can grab the Home Depot app for Windows Phone here. Thanks, Nate, for the video!

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Although we don’t use our phone-as-an-alarm all to often, clearly many of you do, so it’s always nice to have options out there to entertain. Especially free options. Such is the case with ‘627 AM’ which is available now on the Windows Phone Marketplace.

The app is simple, clever but most importantly…simply gorgeous. It features the current temperature, weekly forecast, independent daily alarms and a to-do list all on a single, well designed screen.

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Now that the dust has settled, the previously rumored story that Microsoft was ditching the term ‘Metro’ seems to be holding true.

The claim was that the German company Metro AG made a complaint to Microsoft over the term and while it seems specious to us it was evidently enough to get Microsoft to immediately cease all usage of the name.

Ed Bott over at ZDNet has a good article articulating the point that Microsoft was not using ‘Metro’ as a code-name but instead used it dozens of times in press conferences, keynotes and developer documentation thereby making it offiial. In turn, he finds their public reasoning for abandoning the term ludicrous. We agree.

Microsoft is expected to reveal a follow-up name to Metro, used to describe their minimalist design principle based off of metro (airport, subway) signage, sometime in the next week. While we wait for that name to drop, we want to know what you think it should be called?

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Windows 8-Style UI? Ewww...

Just as things were getting good for Microsoft word is coming out that the word “Metro” may be problematic for the company. 

The term ‘Metro’ is reportedly being claimed as a trademark for German company Metro AG and it will no longer be used by Microsoft, effective immediately. Ars Technica is reporting that Microsoft’s Legal and Corporate Affairs team sent out a memo banning the word "Metro” from all public usage which is a sign that something is awry.

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The metrification of Microsoft’s web properties continues. Yesterday we reported that the Accounts page update was rolling out. This time Liveside are reporting a leak of the new, flatter SkyDrive. Word is, that we will see these changes appear around August time. Amongst the changes deduced from the screenshots looks like we can expect to see:-

  • Thumbnails of Office document types
  • Ability to select files from the thumbnail view
  • Improved access to storage management, tagging and changing language type
  • Groups accessible from the left hand column
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It is Monday so what better way to start the week off than with a roundup of some of the more interesting Microsoft news? We have three more stories for you that might strike your fancy:

  • Microsoft gets caught with juvenile coding prank in Linux
  • AT&T and Microsoft differ on counting online gaming for broadband
  • Microsoft’s Live services (Hotmail, Skydrive) are set to go Metro in the coming weeks

So head on past the break for some roundups!

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Microsoft has made the customer preview of the upcoming Office 2013 suite available for download. Being cloud based, Microsoft has decided to integrate both SkyDrive and Skype into the suite and offer more social functionality to end-users. Signing into your Live / Microsoft Account, you'll be able to store and access documents on the cloud from any supported platform, including Windows Phone.

As well as more optimisation, Office 2013 has also gone 'Metro' with emphasis on simplicity to create an immersive experience. We've installed Office 2013 on our machines and boy does it install promptly. We didn't even have time to make a second cup of tea before it was all set up and ready to go. The suite includes Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher and Word.

Be sure to head on over to Microsoft's website to check out the Office 2013 Customer Preview.

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Will Windows Phone 8 have an Advert Tile?

There is still a lot we do not know about Windows Phone 8. What we do know is that it will share many things in common with the slightly newer Metro inspired UI’s of the Xbox 360 and Windows 8. Let us discuss the recent trend with Microsoft inserting advertising into its products using metro tiles. These adverts are already present in Windows 8 and the Xbox 360. Will those advert tiles be making an appearance in Windows Phone 8 too? 

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Microsoft has published a sneak peek at what a potential redesign could look like for the software giant's online property. With Windows 8, Xbox and Windows Phone all making use of the new Metro design language, it only makes sense that they further improve other products and properties.

We see this as a superb move. Microsoft appears to be improving all aspects of the company to match upcoming product releases. It's also essential to have an aesthetically pleasing website design to attract potential customers, as well as increasing the number of returning visitors.

Let's just hope the company actually rolls out the new design across the entire network of websites for consistency. What do you guys make of the direction Microsoft is heading with the design? 

via: LiveSide

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Microsoft has made the anticipated Windows 8 Release Preview available to download in 14 supported languages. This version is the final release before the next major operating system hits gold, and includes a number of improvements made by Microsoft using feedback received from the community in past releases.

Should you be familiar with Windows 8, and have installed the Consumer Preview, you should look forward to more features and apps, including news, travel and sport. If you've not picked up a copy yet, you might want to do so to see how Microsoft is changing things on the desktop / tablet to match Windows Phone.

You can download the Windows 8 Release Preview from Microsoft.

via: MSDN

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Early this morning we reported on the mini song "Metro" by Matt Oglesby created on nothing but free Windows Phones apps. The tune has a chill yet vibrant feel to it and as a few of you noticed in comments, it would make a solid ringtone on your device.

While there are browser plugins that will easily rip YouTube audio and convert it to an MP3, there is a much easier way to do it directly on Windows Phone. The free app YouRang by Red Pegasus Media allows you to search YouTube, bring up the video in a small window and then by using pre-selected arrows, you can edit the section you want for a ringtone on your phone.

The app is free, beautiful and super simple to use. It maintains the full audio quality, volume and lets you "max out" the length of the ringtone according to Microsoft's specifications. In short, there's no reason not to get it even if you just want "Metro" for your ringer (just search for 'Metro' - Track Created...).

Pick up YouRang for free here in the Windows Phone Marketplace. [Edit: For those outside certain regions, stay tuned. The developer has submitted an update for other regions and it should be available soon]

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As well as the success in China, in the states Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility, had the following to say about Windows Phone and its future with Microsoft's upcoming dekstop OS release, Windows 8.

"I am really pleased with what I am seeing out of Microsoft and Nokia coming out with their first product. The operating system works really well. It is simple, it is easy to use, it is intuitive. The reception to the Lumia launch has actually exceeded our expectations. So we think there is a very good chance that Microsoft will have a very good OS that will be right in there with iOS and Android.

When they come out with Windows 8 in the fourth quarter, I think it will actually add to the value that that OS brings to the marketplace, in that that will be the first time that you can truly have a similar experience on your PC, on your tablet, and on your smartphone from soft Microsoft. From what I have seen and the previews that I have been given, I think it is going to be exceptionally good. I am very upbeat in what they are bringing to the market."

Microsoft is pushing the "three screens metro" vision with Windows Phone and the recent Xbox dashboard update. Consumers are patiently awaiting for Windows 8, which will sport the same tile system being used that's currently iconic with Windows Phone. Vega believes this familiarity with the desktop, tablet and smartphone will give consumers a reason to use Windows Phone (as well as other Microsoft products).

We already know the AT&T Mobility CEO is satisfied with the Lumia 900, and even promoted it instead of talking iPhone 5, but it's pleasing to know that he's also looking to the future of the platform, as well as Nokia and Microsoft's current push. 

Source: ZDNET

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There's no shortage of those with creativity in the Windows Phone universe but here's one that will surely blow you away.

Musical talent Matt Oglesby stitched together this 'Metro' song using nothing but his Nokia Lumia 800 and some free music apps found on the Marketplace. The result? After two hard days he cobbled together what you see and hear above. Color us impressed.

Head to Matt's site to get the full skinny on how he mixed everything. Let's see if anyone else can match him and maybe we can get a Metro Holiday album started. For those curious, here is what he used for Windows Phone apps found in the Marketplace:

Source: mjomusic.co.uk; via 1800PocketPC

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One of the main reasons so many of us like Windows Phone is because the UI design is not only unique but equally mesmerizing. From Windows Media Center to Zune HD to Windows Phone, the Metro UI lineage is as clear as the subway signs it's based on.

The popular and influential business magazine Fast Company has named the Design Lead for Windows Phone, Jeff Fong, #81 in their 100 Most Creative People in Business for 2012. Not only is that a heck of an honor it's a telltale sign of the continued influence Metro is having on the mainstream, something that we'll see a lot more of when Windows 8 drops this fall. From the Fast Company entry for Fong:

"Airports may be frustrating, but give them this: "The signage is so clean, pure, and direct, it helps you navigate a very complicated environment," Jeff Fong says. "I wondered, Can we apply that same approach to designing our user interface?" His team culled photos from London's Heathrow and designed the smartphone's software--with its animated, colored tiles, and straightforward imagery--based on the signs' typography and simplicity."

Over at the Windows Phone Blog, they get behind the scenes with Fong and ask quite a few questions on design and what he sees as the future. Quite the interesting read both for his insight and for the fact that we get to put a face on one of the team that has brought us the fresh UI experience to our mobile phones.

A hearty congratulations to Mr. Fong!

Source: Fast Company and the Windows Phone Blog

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Arturo Toledo, a Senior User Experience Designer for the Windows Phone Design Studio who chose to leave Microsoft last month, has announced plans to finish the Windows Phone Design Series.  Toleda is set to turn the series into a free e-book.

More good news is Toledo plans to stay involved in Metro for the future, I guess we can't get rid of superb talent that easily?

The 31 “Weeks” of Windows Phone Metro Design series focuses on providing developers (and enthusiasts who are just starting on the Windows Phone development path) with resources to ensure app UIs follow suit and create a fluid Metro experience for consumers. One thing we here at WPCentral understand is that our readers (and the community as a whole) favours a complete Metro experience.

Should this series finally become available in free e-book format, it'll be the bible for Windows Phone developers. Exciting times ahead. For now we'll leave you with our no-so-famous Metro meme.

Source: ux.artu.tv

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In a neat little historical post over at the site Project Metro, the origins of the Metro UI design language are given some detail. What makes it interesting is the information came from a Microsoft presentation on the topic at an early "Behind the Tiles" event.

We won't steal all of their thunder from the fun little read, so we'll just tease you with a bit of it:

"The whole idea started with the Swiss Movement in the 1960′s. They wanted a way to communicate to people through design, while being different yet direct. What was born from this movement was the font, Helvetica. It was the first simplistic yet sophisticated design font that delivered a clear and precise message. Microsoft knew with the rise of Apple and Android that they needed to make a change. They needed to be different but also wanted a clearer way to deliver its message..."

Very interesting stuff, especially about the use of Helvetica and Segoe fonts (Windows Phone uses a slight variation called Segoe WP). Personally, we'd like someday to see a detailed history of the evolution of Metro UI through Microsoft (we've seen some early iterations in Media Center, then through Zune to Windows Mobile 6.5 and up to Windows Phone 7).

Source: Project Metro

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Microsoft has teamed up with AnythingbutiPhone to provide the Windows Phone community with a number of invitation-only events across the U.S. 36 events will be held at 12 Best Buy establishments on set days that will run from 6:30pm - 9:00pm.

Branded "Behind the Tiles with Windows Phone", these sessions will enable attendees to get hands-on experience with a variety of devices and learn about the design philosophy behind the Metro UI. Also, you could be in with a chance of winning a Lumia 900 for attending. What's on the agenda?

  • Attend a Nokia Lumia 900 instructor-led demo lab
  • Learn about the Metro UI and the future with Windows Phone (three screens dream, etc.)
  • Get the latest information on Windows Phone for IT and Developers
  • Play with some of the latest Windows Phones
  • Network with peers and Windows Phone experts
  • Have a chance to win great prizes
  • Food and beverages will be provided

Should you be interested in attending one of the hosted events, head on over to AnythingbutiPhone (link below) to view the calendar and be sure to register for a place (enter "MVP" during registration) if you can make one.

Source: AnythingbutiPhone; thanks William for the heads up!

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The BBC Mobile Site is in active public beta, which can be accessed from your Windows Phone via Internet Explorer. This beta makes use of a Metro UI look and feel with simplistic graphics and "live tile" like story headline boxes. The new mobile site design matches the main homepage, which also looks Metro influenced.

Should you prefer a more app-driven experience when reading the BBC News website, be sure to pick up Lawrence Gripper's BBC News Mobile app from the Marketplace. What do you guys make of this new look that BBC seems to have rolled out?

Source: BBC Mobile Site; thanks Ed for the heads up!

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