Microsoft made a number of changes to the Visual Studio 11 Release Candidate focused on the user experience based on two core design principles, the first being to give more space for content and the second to draw more focus to that content.
"There are three main aspects of the design where we have increased the "energy" level of the Visual Studio 11 themes: a lighten the grays used in the VS11 light theme and window chrome to improve both the energy level and readability of the experience; second colorized Status Bar, windows headers and tabs," Monty Hammontree, Director of User Experience, Microsoft Developer Tools Division, posted.
Based on the feedback, Microsoft also 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.
"In line with our overall design principles for the release we've made lightweight changes that give structure and emphasis to screen areas like tool window title bars, auto-hidden tabs, tab groups, and separators that doesn't require uppercasing the titles. As is reflected in the screenshots below we've removed all caps for tool window titles, auto-hidden tabs, and tab group members. For RC the only UI area where we will be using All Caps titling is for top level menu titles," explained Hammontree.
Also, to give overall sense of Metro styling, the team has drawn own window chrome. The team has reduced a number of default toolbars and toolbar icons combine to give you three extra visible lines of code the Visual Studio 11 in the editor.
Microsoft says, they're working on to bring the theme scrollbars and other UI elements so that they have a stronger Metro style feel.
Microsoft has also added the color back to select commands, IntelliSense, and Solution hierarchy icons.
"The first area where we've systematically reintroduced color into the icons is to add color to common action types (e.g. create/new, add/remove, start/stop, search, move/direction/connect). This helps add greater distinction to common action icons and in turn helps to breakup or chunk menus and toolbars into smaller more scan-able subgroups.
The second area where we've reintroduced color in icons is the Solution Explorer -- is where you spend the most time.
A third area where we have reintroduced color to icons is to promote familiarity and differentiation within IntelliSense," Hammontree adds.
The team has also adjusted the grays within the icons to eliminate any fuzziness or halo effect that existed within the Beta.
Check out the screenshot below:
Here is the Visual Studio 11 Beta vs. RC1: