"I predict the suicide rate among [Visual Studio] users will go way up when VS11 is released. The color scheme is just depressing," writes another commenter. (In fact, as I write this, searching the blog comments for "depressing" returns 40 hits, while "suicide" scores 8.)
Me code pretty one day
It may seem surprising that developers, of all people, would get so worked up over a UI change. After all, programming and ugly interfaces practically go hand in hand. (Done any Perl hacking lately?)
But developers are nothing if not loyal to their tools. For example, the debate between Emacs and Vi has raged for decades, and neither text editor has the kind of UI you'd want to teach to your grandparents.
Visual Studio developers are among the most loyal of all. Yet many have only just grown accustomed to the previous version, Visual Studio 2010, which also underwent a significant UI overhaul. The thought of climbing the learning curve again so soon could convince some developers to give the new version a pass.
Or not -- Visual Studio 11's biggest selling point is that it includes development tools for Windows 8, including the new, touch-centric Metro UI and its associated WinRT APIs. Developers who want to stay on the cutting edge of Windows technology have little choice but to come along for the ride.
Even if you don't care about Metro, there are plenty of other reasons to upgrade to VS11. The new release includes enhancements that touch all of today's hot buttons, from HTML5 to devops. It also bundles significant new technologies, such as Microsoft's Accelerated Massive Parallelism extensions for C++.
Trust us, we're from Microsoft
If Visual Studio 11 sells itself, why mess with the UI at all? One answer is that Microsoft knows what it's doing.
We've all heard people gripe about Office's ribbon UI. They've been griping about it for five years now. But evidence suggests the ribbon's detractors are just a highly vocal minority. Microsoft developed the ribbon based on extensive user testing, and converts (including myself) find it really improves their productivity. And it certainly hasn't hurt sales.