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.