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The Design Formerly Known as Metro

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The Design Formerly Known as Metro

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In 2010, Microsoft released its new heavily promoted mobile operating system called Windows Phone 7. The new look was full of colorful "live" tiles. Two years later Windows 8, which was promoted as "very contemporary looking and clean," started to surface. As beta versions became available, a new buzz word called "Metro" appeared. Everyone asked, "What is Metro?" The intrigue was high. The technology community was very interested in the new direction. Then in August, Microsoft reportedly told its staff to stop using the word "Metro." Microsoft stated the term was only meant as a internal code name. Others in the industry pointed at possible legal trouble with the company Metro AG.


This was an unfortunate misstep for Microsoft. The reasoning behind the decision is irrelevant. The organic, free chatter generated by the community was epic. People were talking about Microsoft in a new and interesting way. People began taking a second look at what was perceived as an aging company. Marketing is an important part of the software development cycle. The years have borne witness to amazing software with a visible layer of dust. Digg.com is an excellent example of a company that both succeeded and failed based on social pressures and bad marketing.

Dropping the word "Metro" will not be the demise of Microsoft. That is a laughable thought. In fact, this new UI direction might rejuvenate the company. But it does underscore Microsoft's struggle to capitalize on brand equity. Marketing in the technology sector has changed in recent years. Social media yearns for the latest information and news. Anything has the chance to go viral. This demands new and innovative marketing strategies. Whether or not the word "Metro" was part of Microsoft's marketing direction, failing to capitalize on it was regrettable. Unfortunately, the time to use "Metro" has come and gone. At this point, it has been lost to cheesy tech humor and confused eye-rolling.

Final Thoughts
Microsoft has been a dominant force in technology for many years. Apple's recent rise from the grave has applied unexpected pressure. Tablets and smart phones are reaching a broader non-technical audience. Microsoft needs to take a page from Apple's book and have better brand awareness. Features may help sell a product, but a good brand sells itself.

 

 

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Published at DZone with permission of Zac Gery, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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