Every time Microsoft makes a major UI change to one of its products, users complain. When Office 2007 introduced the ribbon UI, they complained. When the ribbon started worming its way into Windows, they complained some more.
Now Microsoft has gone and done it again. Only this time it isn't Office, Windows, or any of Microsoft's consumer products that's getting the face-lift. It's Visual Studio -- and early reactions from developers are, to be charitable, less than positive.
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Visual Studio 11, the latest incarnation of Microsoft's flagship IDE, entered public beta this week. But critics have been blasting it since at least a week ago, when a Microsoft blog post unveiled its revamped UI.
"After seeing the first screenshot of the toolbars, I actually thought this was some kind of April Fool's Day joke about making [Visual] Studio look like Windows 3.1, or an X11 desktop from 1995," writes one blog commenter. "Please do not foist this on us."
Among the changes in the new version: Boxes, separators, bevels, gradients, and shadows have been removed from UI elements. Icons and other graphic elements have been simplified. "Unnecessary" commands have been dropped from toolbars (including Cut and Paste). But the most controversial change is the elimination of virtually all color from the UI, creating a look and feel one commenter describes as "battleship gray."
You sank my battleship! Visual Studio 11's drab gray UI has developers up in arms.