Visual Studio 11 gets new almost-Metro interface

There aren't any tiles here yet, but Microsoft has gone for the simplest form they can in the latest version of Visual Studio. In the previous, publicly available beta, Visual Studio 11 looked something like the below picture, with small colorful images on the toolbar, stylization and color throughout the interface. 

Now, Microsoft revealed the new interface (to little fanfare) in a post detailing how to submit future Windows 8 applications to the store. It depicts a new, flat interface with monotoned buttons and little color other than Aero. It's almost like Microsoft tried to squeeze Metro and traditional Windows styling together.

It's definitely a bleaker and less colorful future, it seems with the latest iteration. This version isn't in developer hands just yet, but we suspect it'll become available with the release of the consumer preview on February 29. What do you think of the new style? 

Image source: VSM

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I'm not really loving it. I thouth they were going to get rid of those toolbars full of icons they say we never use (Indeed I never use them), but there it is!

the one darn thing VS needs its the ribbon, there is just TOO much stuff you can do and they give it to you all at once with 20+ toolbars... the ribbon would of made this so much simplier, sure if you use VS all day like me you just know where stuff is, but you could make it a lot more productive by doing what office does and giving you what you can do with the current selected object in the form designer, or whats available for the code you are on... etc...etc

they are trying to hard to make superior UI's when the win98 one is all u need right now until we can control computer with our brains.

First screenshot looks like a native Win98 app to me ...

Other screenshots look like CS5.

Edited by LaP, Feb 20 2012, 5:34pm :

There is not Metro in that, all I see is an Office XP theme applied to a Visual Studio UI that hasn't really changed since… since I can't remember. They should have gone with the Ribbon all the way, THIS is a solid interface.

techguy77 said,
Reminds me of early Windows XP visual style

indeed, it's more whistler-like style rather than metro-like

Both sets of screenshots seem to be running in Aero Basic mode. Once they are shown in full Aero glory would I even consider their "change" in design (besides an icon or two) really a shift towards anything different.

Let's keep in mind that Windows has its own visual themes that affect how applications like VS run. It can be surmised that VS11 (in the lower screenshots) simply adheres to the OS theme.

With each version since VS 2010, Microsoft is doing things that are of secondary importance to Visual Studio and ignoring the severe issues like performance: http://visualstudio.uservoice....9-visual-studio/filters/top and dozens and dozens of bugs which never get fixed. It's a real shame if the very top most-voted issue is performance and a request to rewrite it in native code. VS used to be fast. Uber-fast. Now it's a dog. The new help system is a mess. New features in VS2010 are great but number of bugs and regressions too many. They should work on improving the existing release more and give it more service packs and hotfixes.

xpclient said,
With each version since VS 2010, Microsoft is doing things that are of secondary importance to Visual Studio and ignoring the severe issues like performance: http://visualstudio.uservoice....9-visual-studio/filters/top and dozens and dozens of bugs which never get fixed. It's a real shame if the very top most-voted issue is performance and a request to rewrite it in native code. VS used to be fast. Uber-fast. Now it's a dog. The new help system is a mess. New features in VS2010 are great but number of bugs and regressions too many. They should work on improving the existing release more and give it more service packs and hotfixes.

I've never had any problems with it being slow and I can't be the only one. Also a request to rewrite the entireity of VS in native code is going to be ignored because they (being MS) aren't just going to throw out all the investments made in making managed code, for no reason.

SharpGreen said,

I've never had any problems with it being slow and I can't be the only one. Also a request to rewrite the entireity of VS in native code is going to be ignored because they (being MS) aren't just going to throw out all the investments made in making managed code, for no reason.

Well there are always people in both camps but if you browse the Somasegar's blog, Visual Studio's official blog, amplicate.com's VS page, MS Connect, and the uservoice page, you will find plenty of people dissatisfied with performance.

SharpGreen said,

I've never had any problems with it being slow and I can't be the only one. Also a request to rewrite the entireity of VS in native code is going to be ignored because they (being MS) aren't just going to throw out all the investments made in making managed code, for no reason.

I wish we can write in native code cause managed code is pile of crap.

xpclient said,
With each version since VS 2010, Microsoft is doing things that are of secondary importance to Visual Studio and ignoring the severe issues like performance: http://visualstudio.uservoice....9-visual-studio/filters/top and dozens and dozens of bugs which never get fixed. It's a real shame if the very top most-voted issue is performance and a request to rewrite it in native code. VS used to be fast. Uber-fast. Now it's a dog. The new help system is a mess. New features in VS2010 are great but number of bugs and regressions too many. They should work on improving the existing release more and give it more service packs and hotfixes.

Seriously? How do you know what they're fixing or not in VS11?

xpclient said,
With each version since VS 2010, Microsoft is doing things that are of secondary importance to Visual Studio and ignoring the severe issues like performance: http://visualstudio.uservoice....9-visual-studio/filters/top and dozens and dozens of bugs which never get fixed. It's a real shame if the very top most-voted issue is performance and a request to rewrite it in native code. VS used to be fast. Uber-fast. Now it's a dog. The new help system is a mess. New features in VS2010 are great but number of bugs and regressions too many. They should work on improving the existing release more and give it more service packs and hotfixes.

You are so ignorant! Just watch //build and you will be amazing by the new abilities of the new Visual Studio. It's the biggest release since Visual Studio .Net in 2002. I'm so excited!

RealFduch said,

You are so ignorant! Just watch //build and you will be amazing by the new abilities of the new Visual Studio. It's the biggest release since Visual Studio .Net in 2002. I'm so excited!

So even after I link to the performance issues you refuse to read them or acknowledge they exist and instead call me ignorant?

Cøi said,

Seriously? How do you know what they're fixing or not in VS11?

Because they didn't exactly address the performance issues of VS 2008 or VS 2005 eiher. PCs just got faster so they now run acceptably fast. And they need to fix VS 2010 first before moving on to VS 11. $799 IDE should not be a fix to the slow and unstable earlier version.

MattWeihl said,
Sad that Microsoft can't even get their own design language right. That isn't Metro.
And if they went all out metro, you'd be saying "OMG TOO METRO EWWW, why don't they tone it down a bit D:<"..

Just can't win with some people.

MattWeihl said,
Sad that Microsoft can't even get their own design language right. That isn't Metro.

And since when is Microsoft claiming that this is Metro?
Please check the source before bashing something you don't know about (which happens so often on this site >.>).

Edited by Cøi, Feb 20 2012, 8:33am :

I like it. I was hoping they would have added the ribbon to VS to expose some of the more hidden features but I can deal with this. I just wish they'd combine Blend into Visual Studio. It can be a huge pain in the ass working with WPF in VS and is one of the reasons I'm still sticking with using WinForms.

Nashy said,
In those screenshots, I'm failing to see anything metro...?

Looks more like high contrast version of Windows 3.1 theme for colour blind people . Microsoft should buy WindowBlinds, implement fully customizable themes everywhere and stop messing with it, but I guess interface changes creates that illusion that they produced something new to sell.

EJocys said,

Looks more like high contrast version of Windows 3.1 theme for colour blind people . Microsoft should buy WindowBlinds, implement fully customizable themes everywhere and stop messing with it, but I guess interface changes creates that illusion that they produced something new to sell.

"fully customizable themes"
"WindowBlinds"
"stop messing with it"

You're so obviously wrong, Mr. Troll.

RealFduch said,
You're so obviously wrong, Mr. Troll.

Thing is that Microsoft is using UI like fashion designers use cloths - they are repackaging old style and representing it as new best thing. This is why Visual Studio 2011 interface looks like something from Windows 3.1 era. Probably couple years later Visual Studio will look like Visual Studio 2010 today and teenagers, who haven't seen all this before, would be amazed. I am not a fan of change just for the sake of change. I saw a lot of good design and functionality screwed because of this attitude.

It looks great, but I will wait until I try it myself before making any assumptions.

I would love to see Microsoft implement Metro like the Zune Software interface across all their products. Without loosing the ability to use Windows 7 controls if you are not running a touch device or Windows 8 of course.

iwod said,
Why are they forcing Stupid Ribbon on everything else and not VS?

Just what I thought. Everyone talking about how AWESOME the ribbon is and now how AWESOME this is, lol.

iwod said,
Why are they forcing Stupid Ribbon on everything else and not VS?

because IDEs usually have very little of daily use buttons. and because IDEs needs maximum space for content

iwod said,
Why are they forcing Stupid Ribbon on everything else and not VS?

Microsoft had reportedly a prototype of the Ribbon in VStudio during the development of VS 2010. They decided against it, maybe because that would have been a very crowded ribbon.

I can't say I am a big fan of the VS 2011 flat UI. I do not like the middle grey associated with the flat look. Bah, there was a theme editor in VS 2010, hopes it still works in 2011.
In any case, I am more interested in under the hoods improvements.

iwod said,
Why are they forcing Stupid Ribbon on everything else and not VS?

Ribbon is useful when you need many different toolbar buttons. VS doesn't have many toolbar buttons and VS 2011 even has much less than VS 2010.
Everything has its place.

Are you sure that this new styling is unique to Visual Studio? To me it just looks like the standard windows UI controls (Toolbar, menu bar, window, etc) have just been reskinned. If so, all applications using those controls will look this way when run on Windows 8.

No, I'm pretty sure this is just a Visual Studio thing. Too many parts have changed for it not to be. For instance, look at the output window at the bottom. It changed from "Output" to "OUTPUT". Old "Toolbox" is now "TOOLBOX". The placement of "Output" is different and now looks more like ":: OUTPUT ::::::::::::::::::::::::"

They did introduce a UI color-scheming addon with VS2010, so I'm not too worried. The good thing is MS dogfoods Visual Studio, so I don't expect them to saddle us with something impractical.

I see new color schemes applied to the menus and side flyout tabs, but wth is this considered metro?? I mean, it's not like this looks like it is going to be used with tablets and phones... I thought metro was regarding the live tiles and user interface navigation and cues... This just looks like a repainted, but very well painted version from the 15000 foot view. Not sure if I am sold on any metro reference.

chorpeac said,
I see new color schemes applied to the menus and side flyout tabs, but wth is this considered metro?? I mean, it's not like this looks like it is going to be used with tablets and phones... I thought metro was regarding the live tiles and user interface navigation and cues... This just looks like a repainted, but very well painted version from the 15000 foot view. Not sure if I am sold on any metro reference.

Well no. Metro doesn't always mean tiles and full screen apps. The Zune client is the best example of that; favoring text and solid colors icons over the current style of multicolor icons.

Or rather that's how I've always seen it.

SharpGreen said,

Well no. Metro doesn't always mean tiles and full screen apps. The Zune client is the best example of that; favoring text and solid colors icons over the current style of multicolor icons.

Or rather that's how I've always seen it.

Agreed Metro is flexible in that its not always full screen/tiles etc. The main focus is clean typography and simple colours allowing the important info to stand out while the app 'wrapper' sits in the background. I think this is how it should be!

I've been working on a REAL METRO version of VS 11, taking inspiration from the Zune App and Office 15 at http://visualstudio.uservoice....style-metro-ui-see-my-makeo

We're now in SCREENSHOT REVAMP V5. See the comments for the past revamps and the change logs!

The Goal of REVAMP V5 is to make the IDE more alive and less depressing. In REVAMP V5, we address some of the feedback on V4, and at the same time, add more color where they make sense.

BEFORE REVAMP: http://i.imgur.com/HXSDk.png

VIEW SCREENSHOT REVAMP V5: http://i.imgur.com/EWH1R.png

Here are my Version 5 VS 11 Changes:

1. Panel Titles, Selected Tabs, Selected Items, and the Status Bar now have a background color.

2. Metro-Version of Toolbar Handles.

3. Improved the appearance of Tab Items at the bottom, and docked panel text at the sides.

4. Added a Zune-inspired watermark at the top of the window.

BEFORE REVAMP: http://i.imgur.com/HXSDk.png

VIEW SCREENSHOT REVAMP V5: http://i.imgur.com/EWH1R.png

While the purplish/blueish theme of VS2010 does grow on you, I do much prefer the VS11 theme that I've seen here and in other places.

It's clear Microsoft wants to bring Metro to every property they own

I'll sell my home town to Microsoft if they bring Metro to it

firey said,
hmm, this will look really out of place on my Windows 7 machine.. I guess VS2010 will do the job.
it might have a different theme for Windows 7, thats just guessing on my behalf.

firey said,
hmm, this will look really out of place on my Windows 7 machine.. I guess VS2010 will do the job.

We now select IDEs based on colors? Would you like some pink NetBeans?

RealFduch said,

We now select IDEs based on colors? Would you like some pink NetBeans?

I like to be comfortable with the apps I use. Never liked how FF looked, so I never used it.

Awesome. I finally made piece with that purple theme in 2010 and now they're changing it again.

Why isn't the Ribbin in Visual Studio? It, along with Office, is the only other thing with a large amount of functions that actually might benefit from the Ribbon. More so than Explorer, WordPad and Paintbrush.

It would be nice if they could pick a style and stick with it for more than three years, or at least use their hot new styles consistently.

Also, as I've got some vision issues I mainly the colors in the icons to tell them apart. Guess I can scratch that. Thanks Microsoft.

virtorio said,
Awesome. I finally made piece with that purple theme in 2010 and now they're changing it again.

Why isn't the Ribbin in Visual Studio? It, along with Office, is the only other thing with a large amount of functions that actually might benefit from the Ribbon. More so than Explorer, WordPad and Paintbrush.

It would be nice if they could pick a style and stick with it for more than three years, or at least use their hot new styles consistently.

Also, as I've got some vision issues I mainly the colors in the icons to tell them apart. Guess I can scratch that. Thanks Microsoft.

Before 2010 the theme stayed pretty much the same with minor tweaks; from VS02 and 03 all the way to VS08, with VS05 and 08 look practically the same.

SharpGreen said,

Before 2010 the theme stayed pretty much the same with minor tweaks; from VS02 and 03 all the way to VS08, with VS05 and 08 look practically the same.

I wasn't referring to just Visual Studio, and I was slightly exaggerating.

virtorio said,
I wasn't referring to just Visual Studio, and I was slightly exaggerating.

Really and truely even if you were exaggerating..you weren't far off. They do seem to like to change things up every 3yrs.

Makes it easier to focus on the code. The syntax-highlighted code jumps out at you while the flat interface sits in the background.

This looks more like a Windows 8 theme laid on top of modest changes to the UI in Visual Studio rather than a serious shift toward Metro. I would expect them to at least be a generation behind in bringing Metro to the Visual Studio UI, if they ever do.

While I love Metro, I am not sure that it strictly applies to everything, and that includes development tools that generally have a lot of information all across the screen.

pickypg said,
....Metro, I am not sure that it strictly applies to everything, and that includes development tools that generally have a lot of information all across the screen.

Actually, if you get your grid right, this is the one of the best places to use Metro Style. There is way too much windoow chrome in VS as is.
While it's not as bad as other IDEs out there, removing unneccessary window chrome through layout will definitely improve the visual experience.

dotf said,

Actually, if you get your grid right, this is the one of the best places to use Metro Style. There is way too much windoow chrome in VS as is.
While it's not as bad as other IDEs out there, removing unneccessary window chrome through layout will definitely improve the visual experience.

As a developer who makes heavy use of Visual Studio for roughly 10 years, I am going to have to disagree with you. The screenshots allow the interface to a bit more touch friendly, but an actual Metro interface would heavily hinder the development process. I don't actually care how "pretty" the development tools look, if it means hiding functionality that is needed by the developer to do their job. So yes, new apps should take advantage of the new Metro style, however I believe a lot of apps, such as developer tools, should not detract from their primary purpose, which is to be functional and feature rich, rather than "pretty".

dotf said,

Actually, if you get your grid right, this is the one of the best places to use Metro Style. There is way too much windoow chrome in VS as is.
While it's not as bad as other IDEs out there, removing unneccessary window chrome through layout will definitely improve the visual experience.

I do not agree. I think chrome, bevels and such when used properly help making the different sections (project, output, todo, code, help, bd, etc) of the IDE stand out.

JustinN said,
So yes, new apps should take advantage of the new Metro style, however I believe a lot of apps, such as developer tools, should not detract from their primary purpose, which is to be functional and feature rich, rather than "pretty".

I'm sure I would've minded a few years ago, but I'm pretty much at the point with VS that I'm using keyboard shortcuts to do the majority of tasks (only real thing I do with my mouse is switching between source files).

Possibly annoying for those not using shortcuts, but I wouldn't be totally surprised if this change would be for the "Basic" layout but not for the "Expert" layout... "Expert" oddly enough being way simpler to use even now.

I actually love it. If you want us to design beautiful apps, give us beautiful interfaces. And by "us" I am primarily referring to those concerned with designing interfaces.

I like how the fonts are looking clearer. The Zune and Windows phone have very easy to read fonts. I hope metro really spurs readability.

ObiWanToby said,
I like how the fonts are looking clearer. The Zune and Windows phone have very easy to read fonts. I hope metro really spurs readability.

I think that's what it's all about.

ObiWanToby said,
I like how the fonts are looking clearer. The Zune and Windows phone have very easy to read fonts. I hope metro really spurs readability.

Makes me wonder whether they've moved from wpf to xaml given that both are similar when it comes to declaring the the user interface using XML. Maybe what we're seeing is the slow migration from win32 to winrt for metro and desktop applications.