SEATTLE—Earlier this year, pictures of a new Windows look and feel leaked. Codenamed Project Neon, the new look builds on Microsoft Design Language 2 (MDL2), the styling currently used in Windows 10, to add elements of translucency and animation. Neon has now been officially announced, and it has an official new name: the Microsoft Fluent Design System.
The awkward MDL2 name exists because the original codename for the geometric, text-centric style introduced with Windows Phone 7 and incrementally iterated ever since was subject of a trademark dispute. That look and feel was internally named Metro, but Microsoft had to stop using the Metro name after pushback from a German supermarket chain. The company didn’t initially have any particularly good name to refer to the styling formerly known as Metro, so many people continued to use that term for lack of anything better. It wasn’t until a couple of months after dropping “Metro” that a new name, “Microsoft Design Language,” was settled on.
Our understanding is that Neon befell a similar fate; someone out there is using the Neon name, forcing Microsoft to pick a different appellation. This time around, however, the company has recognized that it’s important to have an official name for the style that it can talk about and describe, giving us “Microsoft Fluent Design System.”