Top 10 Dev Stories of 2012

As 2012 comes to a close, Web analytics offer some idea of the topics—covered in both news and blogs—that gained the most attention on Redmond Developer News this year.

Here's a list of the top 10 articles in 2012:

  1. Visual Studio 2012 and Windows 8 Available Wednesday
  2. Entity Framework and How We Got Here
  3. Upgrading to Windows 8 from Windows XP is the Wrong Move, Says Gartner
  4. Windows Phone Apps by the Numbers
  5. Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2012 Available Aug. 15
  6. What's Coming in Sharepoint 2013
  7. Go Live License Planned for ASP.NET MVC 4 Pre-Release
  8. Visual Studio 11 Release Candidate Gets a Makeover
  9. Visual Studio 11 Beta Won't Reflect Final Look and Feel
  10. Visual Studio Beta Gets a New Look

Two of the top traffic getters in 2012 were actually RDN Express blogs written in 2011: .NET 4.5 and .NET 4 Won't Coexist and Expression Blend 5 Preview for HTML Only.

This blog was well represented on this list, accounting for seven of the top 10 articles this year. Thanks for your patronage and happy holidays! Express your thoughts on the top dev stories of 2012.

Follow me on Twitter @RichardsKath.


Posted by Kathleen Richards on 12/18/2012 at 12:54 PM1 comments

High Profile Departure from the C# Team

At the end of November, Eric Lippert, a longtime Microsoft employee and the principal developer on the C# compiler team, announced that he was moving on from Microsoft. Lippert is joining Coverity to work on its static analysis tools.

Many developers were caught off guard by Lippert's departure. In particular, what it means for the future of C# and the compiler as a service project (codenamed Roslyn). Lippert had served as the visible lead of the Roslyn Project. The third Roslyn CTP, which can be used with Visual Studio 2012, was released in September.

The former MSDN Fabulous Adventures in Coding blogger is now blogging at He addressed some of the concerns in response to a reader comment on his new blog on Thursday:

"I am just one of dozens of people working on Roslyn; I'm just the most visible of them. We have heavyweight architects like Neal Gafter and Matt Warren working on this thing and a whole team of smart compiler and IDE people. I am leaving it in extremely good hands and extremely good shape."

In the same response, Lippert said:

"C# will continue to be influenced by me, just less directly. I'm hoping to maintain close ties to the C# team."

Several high profile people have left the Visual Studio and .NET teams of late, including the former head of Visual Studio, Jason Zander, who moved to the Server and Tools Business (STB) at Microsoft immediately after the Visual Studio 2012 launch in September. He is now the corporate vice president of the Windows Azure development team. 

People often switch jobs but it's hard not to wonder, what these changes could mean for Visual Studio and its related frameworks. What's your take? Express your thoughts below or drop me a line at @RichardsKath.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 12/04/2012 at 12:54 PM0 comments

Sinofsky Exit Is Not a Good Sign for Windows 8

News this week that Windows chief Steven Sinofsky is leaving Microsoft has caught many people by surprise and ignited speculation in the blogosphere.

Several blog posts are citing anonymous sources who point to executive clashes and politics within Microsoft, which didn't bode well for Sinofsky and the company's new strategy of Windows integration across Microsoft product lines. Others point out that it is common for Microsoft to go through re-orgs once a major product is launched.

That may be, but Sinofsky's departure signals to the public, and to Wall Street analysts, that the Windows 8 rollout, and early results for Windows 8 upgrades and systems—including Microsoft Surface RT tablets—are not what the company had hoped for.

According to a managing director at MKM Partners, who was interviewed by Steven Russolillo, author of the WSJ MarketBeat blog:

The resignation suggests there's a "high probability" that Windows 8 and the Surface tablet may not be meeting the company’s early expectations, according to [Israel] Hernandez, while noting early channel checks also suggest lukewarm consumer responses to the new products.

The departure of Sinofsky may cause some developers to rejoice. He reportedly was not a proponent of .NET, and is viewed by some as largely responsible for fracturing the Windows development community.

Express your thoughts on the sudden changing of the guard at Microsoft weeks after the Windows 8 retail launch. Does this news make you more likely, or less likely to develop apps for Windows 8? Comment below. Follow me @RichardsKath.


Posted by Kathleen Richards on 11/13/2012 at 12:54 PM3 comments

Microsoft Builds Developer Ecosystem for Windows 8

Will apps surface for Microsoft's Windows 8 operating systems? That's a question many people have asked as the company releases Windows 8, its first Surface tablet, which runs a variant of Windows 8 called Windows RT, and soon Windows Phone 8, which was officially revealed on October 29 during a San Francisco launch event.

The first Surface tablet received accolades from many high profile technology pundits last week. But the steep price ($499 without the Touch Cover keyboard), two-headed operating system and lack of applications, has raised legitimate questions about the appeal and marketability of Windows 8 devices outside of early adopters.

Microsoft has a chance to alter those perceptions this week. Within days of Windows 8 general availability, the company is holding its second annual Build conference for developers at its Redmond campus in Seattle.

Unfortunately, Build attendance may be hampered by Hurricane Sandy, which is pummeling the Northeastern seaboard and commanding the 24-hour news cycle for those who still have power. (If you live in the Northeast and haven't downloaded a flashlight app, now would be a good time.)

It's a bad break for Microsoft. Build is the first time developers will be introduced to Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft's new corporate vice president of Developer & Platform Evangelism. The highly anticipated conference, which draws people from all over the world, starts October 30. The company is expected to finally reveal the Windows Phone 8 SDK; access to date has been restricted to a limited number of developers.

What's your take on the number of apps for Microsoft's Windows 8 operating systems? Are developers on-board? Express your thoughts below or reach me @RichardsKath.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 10/29/2012 at 12:54 PM0 comments

NuGet Feed for Windows 8 Development

Windows 8 finally arrives later this month, and Microsoft needs all developers on deck to help drive the market. On Friday, the company highlighted a NuGet Windows 8 Packages feed in Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8 that provides a "filtered list" of packages for developing Windows Store apps.

NuGet is an open source, package management tool for the .NET Framework. It's designed to help developers navigate external dependencies and configure their apps by automatically adding, updating and removing third-party libraries and tools. Formerly, an extension, NuGet is now included in all versions of Visual Studio 2012. The Windows 8 Packages feed supports XAML and JavaScript development, according to Microsoft.

You can get the Windows 8 Packages feed in other editions of Visual Studio 2012 by following the instructions in this Visual Studio blog. The blog also offers some information on how to get your NuGet packages into the curated feed.

Are you developing Windows Store apps? What tools are you using (XAML/.NET or HTML/JavaScript)? Express your thoughts below or reach me @RichardsKath.


Posted by Kathleen Richards on 10/16/2012 at 12:54 PM2 comments

Somasegar: 3 Goals for Visual Studio 2012

Microsoft has a lot riding on Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5. At the recent launch event in Seattle, I asked Microsoft Corporate Vice President S. Somasegar about some of the goals behind Visual Studio 2012.

"When we started working on Visual Studio 2012, we started thinking, what are the two, or three key themes that we want to focus on, and the three things that come to mind are the following," said Somasegar, who heads the Developer Division.

First and foremost, Visual Studio 2012 needs to support the new offerings and updates coming from Microsoft including Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows Azure, Windows Phone and Office among other technologies, according to Somasegar. "You just look at everything that we do; we have an update or a new version coming out this year," he said. "So when you have this plethora of new technologies coming, we want to make sure that we work very, very closely with the partners and development teams to have the best tools to take advantage of the latest and greatest platform features."

As a second area of focus, the Visual Studio 2012 team created tools that can help development teams collaborate effectively and deliver quality software in an application lifecycle management environment that facilitates continuous improvement.

"Sometimes, you hear this described as build, measure, learn. Sometimes, you hear it described as continuous improvement," said Somasegar."Whichever way you want to describe it; it is really a high level of agility of what you build, and more importantly, how you deliver that to your customers and how you learn from that and continuously get better at it."

The Visual Studio team also did a bunch of work to create a comfortable and productive development environment, which was a third area of focus, according to Somasegar. For example, new functionality enables developers to get back to the task at hand without losing context.

"You spend the vast majority of your time in the one place that you feel very good about," he said. "If you take that analogy and say, what is the home for the developer? I say that the home for developers is the development environment because that's where they spend 6 hours, 10 hours or 16 hours day-in and day-out. And so we want to make sure that developers, when they are staying in their home inside the development environment, have a comfortable environment."

With the release of Visual Studio 2012, Microsoft feels good about the progress that it's made towards these three goals, according to Somasegar. The Community Technology Preview of the first Visual Studio 2012 Update is expected this month. Microsoft plans to release the Visual Studio Update later this year.

Express your thoughts on Visual Studio 2012. Have you tried any tools in latest product cycle? Has Microsoft met its goals? Let us know what you think. Comment below, or reach me on twitter @RichardsKath.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 09/25/2012 at 9:03 AM1 comments

Wednesday Launch of Visual Studio 2012 Kicks Off Roadshow

Microsoft is officially launching Visual Studio 2012 this week by hosting a Virtual Launch event that will be available free to developers online.

The launch event is scheduled to take place at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle on Wednesday, September 12. Keynote presentations by Microsoft executives are slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. (Pacific Daylight Time).

S. Somasegar, the corporate vice president of the Microsoft Developer Division, is kicking off the three-part keynote with a look at modern apps. Jason Zander, the longtime corporate vice president of Visual Studio (who is in the process of shifting roles), will talk about using Visual Studio 2012 to build modern apps. Brian Harry, the technical fellow in charge of Team Foundation Server, is scheduled to finish up the keynote with a look at Visual Studio 2012 and Application Lifecycle Management (ALM).

The launch event will also feature numerous sessions on .NET Framework 4.5 and languages, Web and cloud platforms, ALM development/testing and, of course, Windows 8 Store apps. While the keynotes will be available live online, the sessions will likely become available on demand as soon as Microsoft is able to post them online. Check out the scheduled sessions here.

I will be at the event, so look for coverage here and on our sister site,

The Visual Studio 2012 roadshow is also in the works. Steve Lange, a developer technology specialist at Microsoft, has posted the U.S. dates and cities in his blog.

Have you downloaded Visual Studio 2012? Jason Zander offered his Visual Studio 2012 top 12 in his blog in mid-August (when the tooling was released to the Web). What are some of the top features that you've discovered early on that other developers may want to check out? Got questions for Microsoft? Express your thoughts below, or reach me on twitter @RichardsKath.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 09/10/2012 at 12:54 PM2 comments

Telerik Reboots .NET Portfolio for VS2012 and Windows 8

The release of Visual Studio 2012 and Windows 8 to developers last week "represents the rebooting of the Windows developer ecosystem," says Chris Sells, vice president of Telerik's Developer Tools division.

A lot of innovations, especially in the consumer space, have happened on other platforms, acknowledges Sells, who used to work at Microsoft. "For a long time Microsoft has been busy taking the best ideas from all of its competitors' products and either building them into the operating system or building competing products," he says. "With Windows 8, Microsoft has blended the best of the tablet interface with the desktop interface into something unique to the market."

In conjunction with Microsoft's release, Telerik has updated its .NET tooling to support Visual Studio 2012. The company offers RadControls for desktop, Web and mobile development. Earlier this year, Telerik introduced the Kendo UI framework. The .NET portfolio also includes Visual Studio plug-ins: JustCode, JustDecompile, JustMock and JustTrace. All of the tools remain compatible with earlier versions of the IDE and .NET Framework, according to the company.

Telerik has also built support for Windows 8 into many of its tools, according to Sells, by adding new project types, for example. The second beta of Telerik's Windows 8 UI Controls, updated to support the final version of Visual Studio 2012, was released last week.

The company previewed the Windows 8 UI Controls at TechEd in June and made the preview available to developers who signed up for the company's Windows 8 Dev Club. An open beta was released in July. The final version is expected to ship in late October when Microsoft officially releases Windows 8 and Windows RT on devices.

The Windows Store, designed to sell Windows Metro-style apps, offers a chance for independent Windows developers and smaller shops to innovate on the Windows platform--and get noticed. Expected run rates, even if Windows 8 is only half as popular as Windows 7, could near 300 million installations, says Sells. "All of them will have the Windows Store front and center on the Start Screen."

Are you developing apps for the Windows Store? Express your thoughts below, or reach me on twitter @RichardsKath.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 08/24/2012 at 12:54 PM0 comments

Visual Studio 2012 and Windows 8 Available Wednesday

Microsoft is slated to release Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5 on Wednesday, providing developers with the final tools for building Windows 8 applications. The tooling comes roughly two months prior to October 26, the general availability date of the Windows 8 operating system, according to Microsoft.

The company is altering its standard procedure of first dibs for MSDN subscribers and instead, making the Visual Studio 2012 tooling available to all developers on August 15. MSDN subscribers will, however, gain access to the Windows 8 RTM on Wednesday.

Windows 8, which was released to manufacturing at the beginning of August, will be available so that MSDN developers can build and finalize applications. (That does not include Windows RT, the version of Windows 8 for ARM-based tablets, according to Microsoft.) The company is also planning to release the Windows 8 RTM to TechNet subscribers on Wednesday so that IT professionals can begin testing the new operating system.

On tap for general release tomorrow are the final versions of Visual Studio 2012, .NET Framework 4.5, Visual Studio 2012 Team Foundation Server and the Visual Studio 2012 Software Developer Kit. The free Visual Studio Express 2012 tools for Windows 8 (metro-style apps) and the Web will also be available.

The free Express tools for Windows Desktop (originally dropped from the lineup and added after developers balked) and Windows Phone are expected later this fall, according to Microsoft Corporate Vice President S. Somasegar, who heads the Developer Division.

Visual Studio 2012 supports Office 2013 and Windows Phone 8 development but the tooling for the upcoming Office and the Windows Phone platforms is not part of the August 15th downloads, according to Jason Zander, Microsoft corporate vice president of the Visual Studio team. A preview of the Microsoft Office Developer Tools for Visual Studio 2012 was released last month when the company officially introduced Office 2013 along with the new Cloud App Model for extensibility across client applications and the Web in Office and SharePoint 2013.

Microsoft is also promoting a Visual Studio 2012 Virtual Launch Event that will be streamed live for developers worldwide. Somasegar and Zander are hosting the event. It's scheduled for September 12; the same day that Apple is rumored to be launching iPhone 5 and other products.

It's important to note that Visual Studio 2012 requires .NET 4.5, which is an in-place upgrade. Some developers are reporting potential issues with "Targeting .NET 4" and bug fixes in .NET 4.5 that could cause problems in applications that run on Windows XP, for example.

Are you developing for Windows 8? Express your thoughts on the release of Visual Studio 2012 and app development for Windows RT and other Microsoft platforms. Comment below or reach me on twitter @RichardsKath.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 08/14/2012 at 12:54 PM70 comments

.NET ORMs Map New Direction in Wake of Visual Studio 2012

Visual Studio 2012 is expected to release sometime during the first week of August. It could come as early as Friday.

That means that Entity Framework 5, the latest version of Microsoft's object-relational mapping tool is also ready to debut because it's used in Visual Studio 2012. The EF Designer, for example, ships in Visual Studio.

On July 19th, Microsoft released the source code to the Entity Framework under the Apache 2.0 license. The open source Entity Framework, which is considered Entity Framework 6, is hosted in a Git repository on CodePlex. For now, it contains the EF runtime and power tools. You can obtain the NuGet packages and then build the code from Visual Studio. (Since Entity Framework 4.2 and 4.3, the EF releases have been available via the NuGet Gallery only.)

In the ADO.NET blog, the Entity Framework team indicated that the same number of internal developers and resources are still devoted to the framework:

Microsoft will continue to ship official builds of Entity Framework as a fully supported Microsoft product both standalone as well as part of Visual Studio (the same as today). It will continue to be staffed by the same Microsoft developers that build it today, and will be supported through the same Microsoft support mechanisms. Our goal with today's announcement is to increase the development feedback loop even more, allowing us to deliver an even better product.

One of the beefs about Entity Framework is its lack of extensibility; that may change now that Microsoft has open sourced the code. In addition, the Entity Framework team is in the process of separating the framework from .NET, which is a major challenge. Entity Framework 5 requires .NET Framework 4.5. Developers targeting .NET 4 may still benefit from the bug fixes in the Entity Framework 5, however.

Microsoft's Rowan Miller explained it this way in response to a developer's question:

EF5 requires .NET 4.5 for enums because the parts of EF that needed updating were still in the .NET Framework. In the open source code base (and therefore EF6) the required components are now part of the NuGet package. The code base currently only compiles against .NET 4.5, BUT we are going to enable .NET 4 compilation, so in EF6 you will get enum support on .NET 4.

That means that the projects in the open source Entity Framework (EF6) are only compatible with Visual Studio 2012 and .NET Framework 4.5. The E6 roadmap, which is available on CodePlex, includes support for .NET 4.5 async; mapping to database functions and code procedures with Code First APIs; and support for custom Code First conventions.

On June 28th, Telerik announced that its OpenAccess ORM for .NET was free for SQL Server and other supported databases. The company plans to continue releasing the framework and providing support through its Premium and Ultimate Collections.

Express your thoughts on Microsoft's move to open source Entity Framework 6 in the wake of .NET Framework 4.5, Visual Studio 2012 and Windows 8. Comment below or reach me on twitter @RichardsKath.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 07/31/2012 at 12:54 PM0 comments

Microsoft Previews HTML Client for LightSwitch

Microsoft has released the first preview of a LightSwitch HTML Client for Visual Studio 2012. The announcement was made on Tuesday during a Tech Ed Europe 2012 keynote given by Jason Zander, the Microsoft corporate vice president in charge of Visual Studio.

LightSwitch is a template-driven development environment aimed at line of business apps. The current client is based on Microsoft Silverlight technology.

The HTML5/JavaScript client opens up LightSwitch to mobile Web development across browsers and, in some cases, platforms, according to Microsoft. It's designed to support touch-centric, line of business applications.

Joe Binder, the senior program manager for LightSwitch, explained the thinking behind the HTML client in a Visual Studio LightSwitch Team blog earlier this month:

The existing Silverlight client and upcoming HTML-based client are complementary offerings—the Silverlight client will remain the go-to choice for building rich desktop applications; the user experience focus for the HTML client will be touch-first and optimized for mobile devices. As a companion to the desktop client, the HTML client will be best-suited for browsing data that is created and managed using the Silverlight desktop client.

Developers can use the Silverlight and HTML clients side by side in the same projects, according to Binder. They can also add HTML clients to existing projects.

The HTML client is designed for mobile applications, and Microsoft does not currently plan to target the desktop, commented Binder, in response to a developer's question in the Microsoft forum. He explained Microsoft's vision for the HTML client as follows :

Win8 slates, iPad, Android, et al tablets are devices that our HTML clients are built and tested for. It’s intentional that the devices that don’t allow plug-ins are the devices that the HTML client targets. We continue to see an upwelling of tablets in the business space as an alternative to traditional desktop devices, and we wanted to capture that emerging trend before considering an offering that would overlap with our existing Silverlight client.

Despite those assertions, the future of Microsoft's popular Silverlight technology remains in question as the company continues to shift its focus with the Windows 8 wave of technology. Last week, Microsoft announced its plans to build Surface tablets, along with a development shift to Windows 8 for its upcoming Windows Phone 8, expected this fall. Windows Phone 7.5 is currently based on Silverlight for Windows Phone.

The LightSwitch HTML Client Preview for Visual Studio 2012 is available today to MSDN subscribers. General availability is slated for Thursday, June 28. The preview is a separate download from the Visual Studio 2012 Release Candidate, which was made available on May 31.

An architectural overview of what's in the HTML client stack, including the differences between the Silverlight and HTML dev models, is provided in a blog written by Stephen Provine, a senior developer on the LightSwitch team. The HTML client uses jQuery Mobile, datajs to access OData services and a subset of the WinJS library, among other changes.

Are you using Visual Studio LightSwitch? Express your thoughts on the LightSwitch HTML Client for mobile devices. Should Microsoft expand the technology to the desktop? Comment below or reach me on twitter @RichardsKath.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 06/26/2012 at 12:54 PM5 comments

Visual Studio Express for Windows Desktop Is Back in the Lineup

When Microsoft first announced the final Visual Studio 2012 lineup on May 18, the free Express tools no longer targeted the Windows desktop.

Many developers questioned the move, and its implications for the future of the traditional Windows desktop, including several readers of this blog.

Microsoft has heard developers' objections and changed its strategy. On Friday, the company announced that Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop has been added to the product lineup. The move removes potential barriers for students, hobbyists--and many open source projects--that rely on the free tools.

"As we've worked to deliver the best experience with Visual Studio for our platforms with Windows 8, Windows Phone, and for Web and Windows Azure, we heard from our community that developers want to have for Windows desktop development the same great experience and access to the latest Visual Studio 2012 features at the Express level," explained S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division, in his blog about the announcement.

Traditionally, Express tools have not supported Visual Studio extensions. With the addition of Express for Windows Desktop, Windows developers can, however, take advantage of the latest functionality in the Express 2012 tooling, according to Somasegar. "Developers will also get access to new advances available across the Express family in Visual Studio 2012, such as the latest compilers and programming language tools, integrated unit testing, and the ability for small development teams to collaborate via Team Explorer and TFS Express," he said. The free desktop tooling for C#, Visual Basic and C++ development is expected sometime this fall.

Microsoft is also addressing concerns about the future of Windows desktop development in the wake of Windows 8 and the transition to new Metro-style apps.

"Desktop development has always been a core part of Windows," said Somasegar in his blog on Friday. "With Visual Studio 2012, we continue to extend those desktop development capabilities and provide a great development experience for developers building desktop applications."

Express your thoughts on Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows Desktop and the company's evolving Windows strategy. Are you still betting on the desktop or looking at Metro-style development? Comment below or reach me on twitter @RichardsKath.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 06/12/2012 at 12:54 PM6 comments

Updated: Visual Studio 11 Express Tools Move Beyond the Windows Desktop

Microsoft announced its upcoming Visual Studio 11 lineup on Friday, and the free Express IDEs highlighted key changes in the company's strategy. Microsoft is moving away from the lightweight language-based IDEs, which debuted with Visual Studio 2005, towards free platform-centric tooling (Windows 8 Metro, Windows Phone and Windows Azure) with multiple language support.

While these moves may seem obvious in the wake of Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone, Visual Web Developer 2010 Express (works with Azure SDK) and the Visual Studio 11 Express Beta for Windows 8 Metro-style apps—the bottom line is the free Express tools no longer target the desktop. Windows desktop app developers who want the latest tooling must purchase Visual Studio 11 Professional ($499 without an MSDN subscription) or higher.

You can still download and use the language editions of Visual Studio 2010 Express (Visual C#, Visual Basic, Visual C++) free of charge, according to Microsoft, but these IDEs target .NET 4 and Windows 7. Some apps may not be compatible with .NET 4.5, which is an in-place upgrade. Everything should work on Windows 8, however. 

"VS Express 2010 does run on Windows 8," according to a Microsoft spokesman. "Apps created with VS Express 2010 run on Windows 8." (This is a correction provided by Microsoft. I indicated in my original blog that Visual Studio Express 2010 apps may not run on Windows 8.)

As a professional developer, why should the evolution of Microsoft's lightweight Express tools, reportedly aimed at hobbyists and students, matter to you? The company wants to populate the Windows Store and Windows Phone Marketplace, and perhaps free tools can help, especially when these markets remain unproven. Moreover, several unsubstantiated reports point to the Windows Runtime (WinRT) as the future development framework for Windows and Windows Phone.

Express your thoughts on the Visual Studio 11 Express lineup. Are Microsoft's attempts to offer free tooling for emerging platforms the right move? Or a sign that the traditional Windows desktop is indeed a legacy platform as the company looks to the future? Comment below, or reach me on twitter @RichardsKath.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 05/22/2012 at 12:54 PM6 comments

Visual Studio 11 Release Candidate Gets a Makeover

Microsoft has updated the Visual Studio 11 user interface in response to the backlash the company received from beta testers. Developers found fault with the new Metro styling that appeared without warning in the February preview.

The monochromatic UI changes caught many developers off guard, especially since Visual Studio 2010 had just gotten a facelift based on the IDE's migration to managed code with the use of Windows Presentation Foundation.

Microsoft asked for beta feedback, and developers, who were unhappy with the changes in Visual Studio 11, expressed their disapproval and, in some cases, outrage on blogs (including this one) and Microsoft forums. By mid-March, Jason Zander, the corporate vice president of Visual Studio, indicated in his blog that the Visual Studio 11 beta would not reflect the final look and feel of the IDE.

The UI updates, which will appear in the Visual Studio 11 Release Candidate, according to Microsoft, were highlighted in a Visual Studio blog, authored by Monty Hammontree, director of user experience for the Developer Tools Division, on Tuesday. Microsoft has not announced a release date for the Visual Studio 11 RC, but it's likely to drop around the same time as the next Windows 8 preview, which the company has indicated is slated for the first week of June.

In response to developer feedback, Microsoft is reintroducing some color into the Visual Studio 11 interface, limiting the use of all caps that appeared in tool windows, and offering a lighter theme (less gray). At this point, the VS 2010 theme, which many people have requested, is still not an option.

Developers who responded to Hammontree's post on Tuesday, by and large, expressed approval of the changes (shown in the Visual Studio blog via screenshots) and thanked Microsoft for responding to their feedback. Some Visual Studio developers indicated that the Metro look of Visual Studio 11 is a mistake on Microsoft's part because the IDE is a desktop app for professional developers. Others applauded the Metro styling, and welcomed the immersive direction in which Microsoft is clearly headed.

The use of capitalization in menus still appears to be a sticking point that got some pushback in the comments section. "A considerable improvement over the Beta--good job and thanks for listening!" said Matt Ring. "I would agree with several who disagree with the use of ALL CAPS in the Menu system. It definitely is reminiscent of the mainframe."

Another developer, who called himself Cappy, worried about the use of color in icons which, based on the screenshots, still looks somewhat limited:

"[W]ho will be the holder of the sacred knowledge of what gets colored icons and what does not? What about add-ins? What governs their icon? I think you're asking for a lot of inconsistencies down the road. Just swallow your pride and bring back color to all of the icons. You were wrong, now just accept it."

Express your thoughts on the UI changes in the Visual Studio 11 Release Candidate. Has Microsoft achieved a good balance of Metro styling without hindering usability? Reach me at or on twitter @RichardsKath.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 05/08/2012 at 12:54 PM4 comments

Another Pre-Release of Windows 8 Is on the Way

On Monday, the President of Windows and Windows Live, Steven Sinofsky, announced that Microsoft is planning to offer another pre-release of Windows 8 during the first week of June.

A pic of the announcement appeared on the @BuildWindows8 twitter feed, but the company did not share much more than that.

The Windows 8 Release Preview was announced at Microsoft's Windows 8 Developer Days conference in Japan, an event attended by roughly 2,000 people, according to the company. It is expected to contain more device drivers, and some major fixes, among other enhancements, but Microsoft hasn't confirmed those reports. It will be free to the public for download.

The Release Preview follows the Consumer Preview, which was available at the end of February, and the Developer Preview, which was released at the BUILD conference last September. Microsoft said this week that the number of downloads for the Consumer Preview is double that of pre-release versions of Windows 7.

The final release date of Windows 8 is expected in October, but the company has not announced an official release date. That timeframe may be ambitious considering the new Windows 8 Metro paradigm for tablets and related software.

The company offered a Release Candidate of Windows 7 in May 2009, released Windows 7 to manufacturing in July and delivered it to retail in late October. Microsoft is already behind that schedule, which could jeopardize the timeframe required to target holiday shoppers.

However, the company has indicated that devices with the new operating system will be out before the end of the year. With so much riding on Windows 8, it's hard to believe Microsoft would miss that date.

Express your thoughts on the Windows 8 previews. Is Microsoft on track to deliver the final version of Windows 8 in time for the holiday sales period, based on what you've seen so far? Reach me at or on twitter @RichardsKath.

Posted by Kathleen Richards on 04/24/2012 at 12:54 PM10 comments