Microsoft's Modern-UI, Metro, Windows 8-style, Windows Store Apps- What the heck do we call them?

Will Tschumy at Microsoft's BUILD developer's conference, a principal user experience advisor for Microsoft, said that the term "Windows 8 Store app" is now Microsoft's preferred name for apps that are written specifically to run on Windows 8.

Microsoft officially named apps in the Windows 8 App Store to "Windows 8 Store apps". So that's that!

Well I would argue it isn't really the end of the discussion. The issue is that the word "app" is owned by Apple and Google with respect to mind share. In the end the name will always be boiled down to an "app". Users will just see them as "apps" and call them "apps" no matter where they come from or what platform they run on.

No matter what Microsoft calls them, users will just end up calling them "apps". The story gets more confusing because there are two types of Surface tablets:

  1. One that runs Windows RT and is built for the ARM architecture and only run "Windows 8 Store apps".
  2. One that runs Windows 8 and is built for the x86 Intel architecture and runs  "Windows 8 Store apps" and classic Windows applications for Intel processors.

Are apps "Windows 8 Store apps" and classic Windows applications or are they just "Windows 8 Store apps"? It gets really confusing. I don't know what to call classic Windows applications built for the the x86 Intel architecture. Help me Microsoft?

Add to the confusion that the UI for the Surface tablet was called Metro but there was a trademark dispute with a German company and the "Metro" name had to be dropped by Microsoft. People were calling the apps for the new Surface UI "Metro apps". A nice neat and simple name.

Other names that have been used to describe apps written specifically for Windows 8 include "Modern," "Modern UI-style" and "Windows 8-style" apps.

Even though Microsoft says the correct name is "Windows 8 Store apps", Microsoft employees are referring to them as "Windows store app" during presentations.

The name "Windows 8 Store apps" is long, hard to say, and does not lend itself to general usage. Users will almost certainly ignore all this marketing confusion and simply use the the word "app". So maybe none of it really matters.

Repeat after me:
"Windows 8 Store apps", "Windows 8 Store apps", "Windows 8 Store apps", "Windows 8 Store apps".

I give up. I will just call them "apps" or if I really have to, "Windows apps".

The problem goes deeper than totally confusing nomenclature. This goes to the core of the problem of having a single operating system with two separate interfaces.

  1. Windows 8 UI (formerly Metro)- I am not sure what Microsoft want's me to call this so I created my own name.
  2. Classic Windows UI (formerly known as Windows 7)- I am not sure what Microsoft want's me to call this so I created my own name.

On the Windows store Microsoft uses the term "apps from Windows 8". This is not the official name "Windows 8 Store apps".

If Microsoft remains confused about what to call the new interface, imagine how users feel.

Official NamePrevious NamesDescriptionWhat Users Will Likely Use
Windows 8 Store apps
  • Metro apps
  • Modern apps
  • Modern UI-style apps
  • Windows 8-style apps
  • Windows store app

Apps that compatible with Windows RT and run on the ARM architecture.

Apps that run on Windows 8 are and built specifically for Window 8.

"Windows 8 Store apps"

  • "Apps"
  • "Windows Apps"
No Official Name
  • Application
  • Windows Application
  • Desktop Application
Applications that runs on Windows 8 and are built for the x86 Intel architecture.
  • "Applications"
  • "Windows Applications"
  • "Classic Windows Application"