You may love Windows 8 and its new (formerly Metro) tiled Start screen. You may hate it. You may be withholding judgment until the final bits settle. But there's no doubt at all that Windows 8's a towering engineering achievement -- an amazing mixture of old and new, brilliantly executed.
Windows RT, particularly the tiled (formerly Metro) interface on a Surface tablet, has become the most eagerly awaited Microsoft product in recent memory. Windows RT Surface may decimate Apple's lead in the iPad market. It may fail horribly. But from an engineering point of view, by all accounts (admittedly based on fleeting fondles), it's a force to be reckoned with.
Outlook.com brings Hotmail back on par with Gmail, using a (formerly Metro) minimalist design, reined-in advertising, and a handful of new features to finally give Google a run for the money.
Even Windows Movie Maker, for heaven's sake, restores features that were killed years ago, combines them with capabilities amateur movie editors need, and delivers Microsoft's first real movie-editing product since the Windows XP days.
One after another, we've seen strong technical challenges coming out of Redmond these past months -- an engineering renaissance that comes like a breath of fresh air from a company too long entrenched in reinventing the same-old same-old.
So would somebody please tell me why Microsoft's doing such a supremely inept job at branding?
Last week I complained about the death of the Metro brand. By taking away a readily identified description of the "new" interface and not giving us a name to replace it, Microsoft's ensuring that a raft of supporting technologies -- from books to apps to websites to T-shirts -- are going to emerge on October 26 in a jumbled mess. Perhaps we can all refer to Metro as "the new Windows 8 interface" (it's neither new nor confined to Windows 8) or the "tiled interface" (sounds like my kitchen) or "the interface formerly known as Metro" (my personal favorite at the moment) or "inherently full-screen, fast, and fluid" (gag), but until Microsoft gets that branding act together, we're just confusing all of those consumers who are genuinely interested in learning about what's new in Win8.