Repairing The Visual Studio 2012 UI

I have sympathy for ‘Softies who don’t like the controversial ‘Metro’ UI changes but are afraid to say so. After all, who wants to commit a CLM (Career-Limiting Move) by declaring that the Emperor has no clothes (or gradients) and that ALL CAPS IN MENUS ARE DUMB?

Talk about power! Here’s a higher-up (anyone got a name?) who has enforced a flat, monochrome, uninteresting user interface in Visual Studio 2012  that has been damned with faint praise by consumers. The pushback must have been enormous.

Some ‘Softies disengage from the raging debate with, “It’s not my decision” while others feebly point out that the addition of some colour pixels in the icons is a real improvement over the beta version. True, I guess.

With the UI pretty much locked, its down to repairing the damage. Fortunately, some Empire dissident has leaked the news to a blogger that  those SHOUTING CAPs aren’t hardcoded afterall:

How To Prevent Visual Studio 2012 ALL CAPS Menus

And so it goes. By RTM, I’m sure there will be many more add-ons to help us ‘de-Metro’ VS 2012 and recreate our favourite Visual Studio 2010 themes for it.


  • Hi Ken,

    Thanks for the link back :-)

    Just for reference, there was no leak. Just a bit of spelunking with the sysinternals tools and procmon during the VS startup to see what it was doing :-)

  • So... how about a VS2010 theme for VS2012 ??

    i really hate Metro... its just plain ugly... and why the f*ck should VS2012 also be metro !?

    ARGH... im raging over Win8 and Metro.

  • Just installed it. When I ran it it looked like the whole application was disabled/greyed-out. Couldn't agree more re: menus in ALL CAPS and the metrofication of what has been a fairly standard look & feel since the early part of this century.

    I tried switching to the 'Dark' theme that is currently the only other option. Sadly it is even worse - a jet-black gui with white text is a no-no for an app whose users spend the whole day poring over text files. Until these VS2010 themes turn up I think I'll be sticking with VS2010. Fingers crossed.

  • It should be remembered that the emporer has only so much power as you assign to him.

  • It'd be nice to be able to customise the VS2012 UI colours, either through options or a theme builder. I agree, the grey looks like the app is disabled, and jet black is just wrong

  • this ui SUX! i mean I HATE IT. it is hard to look at for any extended period of time for me.

    did i mention i HATE it? i dont use that word very often, but in this case, i F*CKING HATE it.

    Why couldn't they offer a "classic" theme as well? Why black and white icons? this is a step back to a black and white mac?

    i am boycotting this release and not upgrading my apps until they give me an option for a decent UI that i have to look at for 8 to 9 hours a day.

  • I tried to use it but I literally can't. I have to look at VS for 9 hours a day, and I just can't actually see what I'm doing with the low-contrast themes. Even the "black" one doesn't help.

    I'm not against change, and I tried, but it's just an awful UI. What were they thinking?

    I'm sure the guts are great but I've gone back to VS2010 for now, until I'm forced to use it.

  • Dude, new words need to be invented to express what I feel about this UI. It really causes me some major eye strain and I can't look at it for more than about 20 or 30 mins at a time which is ridiculours. Microsoft has been provided more than ample feedback by thousands of people about this and they just seem to not give a hoot. I heard that they were considering making the theme editor available, but the truth is nothing less than a complete VS2010 UI theme option will suffice. Being able to change (or rather ADD) the colors is most certainly needed but the theme editor won't allow changing those insanely bad icons, nor allow us to change borders or window spacing will it? The emperor has no clothes? I think that would be an improvement.

  • Visual Studio 2012 has the ugliest UI of any software DE on the markets today... possibly ever. I'm lost for words at how ugly and badly thought out it is - things do not bode well for Microsoft if this is the best they can do.

  • This is the first Visual Studio release I have ever uninstalled. I had to go back to VS2010 where I can work without eyestrain.

  • Crucify me, but I liked the new interface!
    I changed it for Dark Color Theme and applied the Obsidian colors from Notepad++ to fonts. And got a greatful result.
    For me, it's more clean and fast.

  • I actually don't mind the VS2012 theme (prefer it to 2010 but liked 2008 best). Here are my main beefs with it though:

    1.) The icons need more color. It's hard to distinguish them and it's a real usability issue.
    2.) The lack of border lines on tabs and containers makes it hard to distinguish where boxes end, what's a button, what's a tab, what's a status label when text is just seemingly floating.
    3.) The all upper case menus (obviously, I've implemented the tweaks to undo this).

    Be thankful they haven't crammed the Ribbon onto Visual Studio yet and taken your menus away.

  • Yes, you're being so brash by criticizing the metro style in VS 2012. Sorry to inform you, but you're not the guy telling the emperor he has no clothes...

    Maybe some of us like the look because we like the look.

  • The more I see these new Visual Studio versions, the more I love my VS2008 SP1.

  • I am not buying VS2012 after trying it. Reason the unreadable UI. I will reinstall Windows 7 and VS 2010.

  • This must be a high ranking executive in MS who never need to use Visual Studio that enforced this UI on the developers. I mean, any human being can tell this UI is so bad! That whoever executive should be FIRED immediately.

  • Visual Studio 2012 has ugliest UI in the world ever.I Think Microsoft return to STONE AGE in VS 2012.Hello Q Basic UI....

  • It is not just the UI, the Team Explorer is junk as well. You constantly have to switch pages between work items, documents, and builds. The tree view in VS2010 had it all conveniently in one place. Any chance there is a tweak to get that back?

  • This UI must have been decided upon by someone *very senior* in microsoft. Everyone else at MS then decided to bite their lips and keep their true feelings hidden. The result is this pile of poo has actually reached the market. Most would have thought that "common sense" will prevail and someone else would stop it, but heck no, and so we in the MS dev community now have to deal with this shit.

    Anything that makes it slightly harder to read / distinguish icons/ text on the screen means it will slow down developers and therefore take them longer to code and increase software cost.

    So there is a sound Business Case NOT to use this foolish and ill thought out version of Visual Studio. I for one shall be sticking with VS2010 and wait till VS2014 comes around by when hopefully MS will have recovered their senses.

  • It is just bad. Many good ideas? where?
    1. compiling does not switch to Output window.
    2. solution drop down box is too much too short.
    3. f4cking metro style only...
    4. active opened file is not highlighted in solution tree
    5. Bug-Icon for debug? De-bug...

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