Microsoft has made quite an admirable free offering with it’s editions of Visual Studio Express 2012. As a long time user and fan of Visual Studio products, I have always tried to take a look at the newest versions as soon as possible. However, I had not checked Visual Studio 2012 until last week. And when I did, I was somewhat shocked. Not by the features, which are pretty much or more what I had expected, but for the user interface. Still quite don’t know what to say.
Microsoft offers Visual Studio Express in several editions depending on your development target. It is completely free also for commercial use and you only need to register with Microsoft to keep using it longer that 30 days. The Windows Desktop edition is what I need for the upcoming project. While I may need to upgrade to Professional Edition later on, The Express Edition looked complete enough, so I decided to give it a try .
Yes, the features were what I expected. MFC and some other stuff is not there, but that was not a surprise. I was able to compile and run my previous .NET projects with VS Express 2012, so everything would have been wonderful, except that it wasn’t! Namely this: Windows 8 metro look. The menu’s shouted at my face (believe it or not, it’s all UPPERCASE) buttons were flat and featureless, coloring bleak. Sure you can change to dark theme, but that does not help much anyone with normal eyesight.
I must wonder, if Microsoft new what they were doing. Now, believe me, I am not against user interfaces changes, even radical ones. Those of us who have been using Microsoft products since 80’s may remember how completely horrible Windows 1.0, Windows 2.3 or even Windows 3.1 were. Still we used them, when we needed to. Windows NT 3.1 was a proper operating system and opened a whole new world for developers and users, but only windows 95 was able to fix the user interface. Windows XP was a huge success and Windows 7 is, in my opinion, the best Windows ever, especially because of it’s user interface.
Well, this article is not about Windows 8, which I have tried to avoid as much as possible. I don’t believe Microsoft can get away without fixing the basic flaw they have development in their thinking, and I think they will fix it. But why have they decided to let the Metro interface design spill over to earlier operating systems through applications? A bit earlier I had taken a peek at Office 2013, and turned away quickly because of it’s flat Windows 8 look-alike. But this time I cannot, because I need the development tools.
Now, I do not have religious views on computing and try to avoid operating systems wars and other non-productive debates. I just use what the customer needs and the tools that get’s the work done. I usually welcome changes and I am open to learn new ways of working.
I will use Visual Studio 2012, because I must, and I believe it will get the job done for me. Maybe I even grow to like the new looks, however remote that might seem right now. I am a very long time Visual Studio user, I have used every single one of them and I think it is the best software development environment available.
Still, I must ask this: What did you do to my Visual Studio Experience, Microsoft?