We reported back in February that Microsoft launched the Visual Studio 11 beta for developers to try ou and give their thoughts before the actual product launch. Microsoft says that there has been "significant" community response to the beta and so they are introducing some changes to the user interface to satisfy the needs of the community.
The community feedback for the Visual Studio 11 beta has been corralled into three key areas:
An overall desire for more visual “energy” and contrast
Calls for a more balanced application of Metro styling
A desire for greater icon clarity and differentiation through the use of color
To that effect, Microsoft has made some significant changes to Visual Studio 11 for the release candidate version. The company has provided before and after comparisons to show the changes that were made.
Visual Studio 11 Beta
Visual Studio 11 RC
The first problem was there was not enough color. Many users complained that everything was too gray. To that end, they have taken steps to colorize more of the components that developers will work with. Apparently colorize means turning everything blue, but blue and gray are a nice combination. The other change is bringing more colors to the status bar to denote different statuses from development to debug mode.
Since Visual Studio 11 is likely to launch alongside Windows 8, Microsoft has been applying the Metro style to the interface in the form of using all caps for the tool window titles. These have been returned to normal with only the top level menu items going all caps for greater emphasis.
To better fit into the Metro style, Microsoft has also created a new window chrome. No longer will there be a blue border around the window to denote the OS namesake. Now the entire window is the same color to bring the entire thing together. I find it more aesthetically pleasing, but some are sure to disagree.
Probably the biggest change introduced in the Visual Studio 11 beta was the removal of color from icons. This obviously created some confusion for similar looking commands since color is a great way to tell these apart. Microsoft has heard the complaints and will be adding color back to select commands.
Color is also being added back into the icons within the Solution Explorer, IntelliSense and the application icons. This should make everything more readable and easier to distinguish.
It's obvious that Microsoft cares about their users by making these important changes to Visual Studio 11. There's still more work to be done though before the official launch sometime this year. If you have yet to download it, check out the Visual Studio 11 beta and keep sending your feedback.