Microsoft banning apps with Metro from Windows 8 store. Windows Phone next? [Updated]

Update: The anti-metro wording has now been removed from the MSDN site and sources have told us that in fact, that wording had always been there but was just noticed today. Microsoft has no guidance for us on this matter meaning so far it does not seem to be affecting Windows Phone or Windows 8 developers. 

It looks like the other shoe has dropped on the ongoing yet nearly silent saga of the Metro-name for Microsoft. Previous reports suggested that Microsoft were instructing employees to stop using the word ‘Metro’ in describing their new UI paradigm. That UI grew out of Windows Phone and has now taken over Windows 8 desktop and the Xbox 360. The reason for the change was allegedly inspired by a complaint by the German company MetroAG.

Reports also began circulating that Microsoft would soon begin scrubbing the name Metro from all developer documentation and would start to use either ‘modern’, ‘modern UI’ or ‘Windows 8 style’ instead. But the question naturally forced itself into an ugly area: What about current apps with Metro in the name?

New documentation found in the Windows 8 Dev Center strongly caution against using ‘metro’ in any app names, noting that doing so will cause the app to fail certification:

“Make sure your app name doesn't include the word metro. Apps with a name that includes the word metro will fail certification and won't be listed in the Windows Store.”

Now we must caution that this is only for Windows 8 apps in the Microsoft Store but is there really any reason to believe that it won’t extend to Windows Phone in the near future?

If so, many popular apps on Windows Phone will have to undergo a new name change akin to the Google-YouTube row that hit earlier this year. That latter case caused many apps like YouTube Pro and gMaps to either be re-named or have infringing references to Google removed. A cursory glance of some popular apps on Windows Phone that could be impacted by such a draconian measure include:

  • MetroRadio (Pandora)
  • MetroTube (YouTube)
  • Metrogram (Instagram)
  • Metro Lockscreen
  • Metro Web Browser
  • Metro Stopwatch
  • Metro Ringtones
  • MetrofaceLIFT (wallpaper)
  • BlackJack Metro
  • MetroTalk
  • Metro Wall
  • MetroTime
  • Checkbook Metro

Needless to say there are quite a few app titles that will presumably need to be re-worked to continue being offered in the Windows Phone Store.

We’re reaching out to Microsoft for clarification on the matter and will update if we have more to report.

Source: MSDN; via iStartedSomething

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • It would be funny if MetroAG released a branded app for their business ... wonder what would happen then?
  • I guess Metrotube should be called modernTube
  • True. I was about to post the same thing. :)
  • Also metrogram,, metro radio, what if they just have metronome? See the problem? Metro ringtones, metro wallpapers.. Etc..
  • Unfair!!! Developers should be able to name their app with "metro". What's wrong with the word is a normal word is not like the google case because that was specific meanwhile the word "metro" has different meanings that are not related at all with MetroAG. (Total nonsense ugh!!!)
  • Yeah I agree totally and also of theirs is MetroAG, can't MSFT have MetroUI? They are different right?
  • +1
  • This is completely ridiculous. Bad move on Microsoft's part.
  • +1
  • Blame MetroAG not Microsoft
  • I will happily blame Microsoft because it's them enforcing this rule, not MetroAG. You can't copyright a common word, especially when word is being used in a completely different context than that which MetroAG uses the word. I'm sure MS could take this to court and make a decent case for itself, but it's choosing not to and instead forcing app developers to exterminate the word from their apps. What if they start rejecting apps that deal with subway and metro systems because of the name?
  • That isn't going to happen.
  • What I don't get is how metroAG is similar to metro?? Then all the metro stations could sue metroag for having the word metro
  • Ok they can ban the word metro but at least give us a legit name that we can switch to not "modern" its just silly.
  • Will they stand between developers and the attack dogs is an interesting question. Metro is a generic word and there's very little chance anyone would confuse an app with a retail chain. But, that doesn't mean they couldn't threaten developers. Considering how important both stores are for Microsoft, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. There is a lot of brand equity in an app like metrotube, remaining named metrotube. If they say all must change, you know the top sellers will clear recertification faster than the run of the mill app without much popularity and new apps. That is going to upset some people. Will it slow the momentum MS seems to have started picking up with windows phones app store.
  • I remember asking this question just a week ago.
  • For fuks sake Microsoft... time to grow some balls and take them to court. This is getting ridiculous.
  • +100
  • seriously.... This is insane.  MetroAG must have been willing to go to their grave over this.  You've got to think that Microsoft at least attempted some kind of licensing deal with them if they really had the rights.
    Actually... come to think of it, maybe I should start a company right now and call it ModernAG!
  • LOL, it's sad and kind of funny that MetroTube might be banned (AGAIN).
  • That's why it's better to name your software/program different from what other company call their design it will prevent this from happening.
  • MetroAG Can sucka my balls of all the times to bring up this stupid thing they wanna bring it up just as big things are about to go down
  • Such a colossal Microsoft blunder that they didn't brand metro apps with a name that they would have the right to use going forward.  Apple is about a billion times better at brand management than Microsoft.
  • I guess as the HP iPAQ was years before apple started naming everything "i" pod, pad, pud.
  • iOS, Owned by Cisco - Apple used without permission.
    iPad, Owned by Proview - Apple used without permission.
    iPhone, Owned by Linksys - Apple used without permission.
    Apple Computer rename to Apple, Inc - Apple violated an agreement with Apple records without permission.
    iTunes - Apple violated an agreement with Apple records without permission.
    The only way Apple is better is that they do whats best for them, trademark and copyright and legal contracts be damned.
  • Ridiculous, I continue to think real reason is other than a unknown, small German company. I have an app called FakeYouTube and nobody said nothing, let developers call their apps as they prefer, copyrights and brands are another thing. Metro is a public word first of all.
  • I totally agree that this is bull$h!t, but Metro AG is not a small German company they are the 5th largets retailer in the world they have plenty of money to defend themselves (unfortunately)
  • Maybe 1/10000000 of Ms, who will spend more on reprinting new brochures without the infamous metro word that paying his lawyers to win this stupid and arrogant copyright issue. In Europe Ms will certainly win easy, we are little bit harder about copyrighting than US.
    Reason is not this, I don't want to believe all that apps has to change name for 'metro'...
    I will sign an agreement with Ms to let me keep the metro word in my apps and let me go against that company, repeat, I will win for sure !
  • seriously the ban of metro is just upsetting to me
  • Metrotube is gone again.
  • Is MetroAG owned in some way by Apple??????
  • This is bullsh**t, whats the big deal of using Metro some where in an app, is it going to be the M word from now one ?
  • Isn't the word "metro" used for some public transportation apps?
  • Its not like own the word
  • Microsoft is just using MetroAG as an excuse to get rid of the term metro from their stuff.
  • Ok, tomorrow I will open a new company called AppAG or AppleAG...C'mon...
  • This is so dumb.
  • Really.  All the people here who are screaming their heads off about Microsoft making this change need to stop and think for a minute.
    Microsoft is one of the largest and most powerful companies in the world.  They have access to likely the best lawyers in the world.  Has it not occured to you that they must have investigated this fully?  For a company the size of MS to be turning on a dime like this is no easy feat I can assure you.  There must be a very real and critical reason for this to be happening and for it to be happening so quickly.  So it's time to give up the word Metro, for better or worse, and realise that there must be a pretty cast iron reason for this and it is a fight that MS are certain that they cannot win...for whatever reason. 
    A reason that clearly none of us are going to find out about.
  • Bah, dont be so reasonable. :)
  • Maybe MS needs to hire Apple lawyers, then.
    Apple was able to rename themselves to Apple, Inc over the objections of Apple records.
    Apple was able to go into the music business over the objections of Apple records.
    Apple was able to use the trademarked iOS, iPhone, and iPad words without asking permission and get away with it.
    Clearly Apple has the better lawyers.
  • If so, Ms should simply tell us the real reason, that's it.
    Only for curiosity, we have to rename our apps and this will be definitively not good for sells..
  • I honestly feel so sad about it. I feel like microsoft needs to either fight for the Metro name or at least tell us what they've done to try to keep it. I just love the word metro and there's no other that fits the interface any better...  Me has saddies :'( #Metro4Life Oh and by the way **** Metro AG, they didnt invent the damn word.
  • This is completely idiotic. I am still beyond shocked how MS just caved in to this nonsense.
  • I'm more shocked that ms didn't check the trademark office and the technology class trademarks when choosing Metro. Because then they could have easily have seen that the Metro trademark is owned by Metro AG. Btw it is Metro AG and not MetroAG. Two separate words and AG only means it's a public traded company. Similar to Inc. etc.
  • Did MSFT explain why they can't use metro??? WTF is wrong with MSFT??? They didn't care about the apps and they future apps that will be develope??? MSFT fucked this up big time.. They should fight this...