Microsoft to tweak Visual Studio 11 interface with Release Candidate

Microsoft to tweak Visual Studio 11 interface with Release Candidate

Summary: Microsoft is readying the Release Candidate of Visual Studio 11, which will include some UI modifications made in response to beta testers' feedback.


We know the Windows 8 Release Candidate (now known officially as "Release Preview") is due out the first week of June. One might expect the accompanying Visual Studio 11 Release Candidate to arrive roughly the same time.

Visual Studio officials aren't making -- so far, at least -- any commitments as to timing of the coming near-final test build of the next version of Visual Studio (which is codenamed VS 11, but likely to debut as Visual Studio 2012, I continue to hear).

But on May 8, the Visual Studio team did make an announcement likely to be welcomed by those who weren't keen on what some called the depressing, bland and color-challenged VS11 interface Microsoft delivered with the beta back at the end of February 2012.

There are UI changes coming with the VS 11 RC. And a few select partners are supposedly getting a sneak peek of these tweaks starting this week.

Make no mistake: The UI is still gray. But the gray used in the VS11 light theme and window chrome will now be light gray instead of dark gray. And there will be some color added back into the status bar, windows headers and tabs. Color is being added back to select commands, IntelliSense, and Solution hierarchy icons, as well.

(click on image to enlarge)

The team also is modifying the typography and fonts to some extent, replacing some that were previously all caps -- meant to reflect Microsoft's Metro design and philosophy -- with upper and lower case.

Speaking of Metro, the VS team isn't breaking ranks with the rest of the company, which increasingly is using Metro design across products, services and sites. It simply is dialing back some of the Metro look and feel, which may have gone too far to suit the tastes of some devs.

I'm expecting the VS11 RC to arrive the same day the Windows 8 Developer Preview Release Preview does, which will be some time in the first week of June. It will be interesting to compare the extent to which the Windows client team responded to testers' feedback in the OS changes and modifications it makes to the next (and final) public Windows 8 release before the product RTMs.

Topics: Windows, CXO, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Software Development


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • But now menu bar is ALL CAPS instead

    'Cause you gotta have ALL CAPS *somewhere* in order to be METRO, right? Crazy..
    • All CAPS? Where?

      Browsing around Win8 consumer preview, I'm not finding all caps anywhere.
      diane wilson
    • Going backward instead of evolving?

      Playing with developer's patience is uncalled for :(

      What the hell has happened in Microsoft that all teams decided to go back in their GUIs instead of adding to the incremental evolution.
  • gray vs gray

    Light gray instead of dark gray? Light depressing instead of dark depressing!
    I'm not sure if I'll upgrade from VS2010.
    • Hmmm

      Picking development tools by color? This is new.
      • Re: Hmmm

        Life's too short to be staring into a grey mist for 14 hours a day.
      • I am not a Robot

        ... and have feelings and limits.
      • @Clepsydra

        "Life's too short to be staring into a grey mist for 14 hours a day."

        Life's also too short to spend 14 hours a day staring into anything. That's the real grey mist.
  • Much better

    The changes are a drastic improvement over the first beta. That was just hideously ugly, bland, boring, confusing, and depressing. Everything blended together in a haze of grey.

    I'm still not sure what makes this a Metro style UI when nothing else Metro was so terrified of using color.
  • They went too far

    I'm glad they're adding some color back to the UI as its a very useful visual cue. Which really makes me wonder when the Windows8 Explorer UI will get the same treatment.
    Jeff Kibuule
  • Strangely

    I like the all caps in the menu. Now, if only VS had the Ribbon...
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Typo in last paragraph

    @Mary Jo:
    You said "I???m expecting the VS11 RC to arrive the same day the Windows 8 Developer Preview does," but I think you meant the "Windows 8 Release Preview."
  • In case VS team does not know

    All caps is hard to read. Maybe VS team had to have upper case text somewhere to be called "Metro style". I hope they just pick the least used part to be compliant with the latest requirement. Help->About would be the right place to go all metro :)
    • Does anyone know

      Does anyone know even a single developer who prefers the new look over prior versions of Visual Studio? Any developers here?
      • I do!

        Well, I like the dark background of the dark theme, more exactly. White backgrounds are too agressive for my eyes.
        About the style itself, I got used to it. Don't really care. It is not what's really important.
        What *is* important is VS11 performance. It is very slow, even slower than VS2010. Since they have introduced .Net in Visual Studio, it is very slow.
  • This fits with the new theming conventions

    Silverlight and Lightswitch both use the new Cosmopolitan (formerly known as, you know it: Metro!) theme.

    Here's a pic of Silverlight controls:

    and here's one of a demo Lightswitch application:
    • Windows 8 Explorer needs this look...

      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Maybe....

        we'll see something like this in the RP. Aero is slowly going away. We already see this in the new Task Manager and such.
      • I like the new look

        Lightswitch makes building apps really easy, and now they look awesome. I haven't tried the new VS11 yet, and Lightswitch isn't available as a separate beta (yet), but I think if you had even very basic coding skills, you could build a whole business around providing software solutions to SMB's using Lightswitch.
  • And BIDS still trails behind

    Just as BIDS moved to the VS 2010 interface in SQL 2012. It's always one version behind