Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

The Height of Ridiculousness

I try not to be mean like this, but I've gotta call Microsoft out on this one. Someone posted the spec today for the new splash screen in Visual Studio "Orcas".

At present, the Splash Screen looks out of place on Windows Vista. With its hard edges and lack of a drop shadow, it appears terribly out of place in the midst of drop shadow-equipped windows with rounded edges.

The Splash Screen typifies some of the worst aspects of the Visual Studio User Experience. It is flat, rectangular, and uninspiring. This can be seen in Figure 1, which displays Visual Studio 2005’s current Splash Screen. We will enhance its sense of polish and visual design, and make it feel like a consistent part of the Windows experience.

ISVs model their applications’ User Experience after Visual Studio; by presenting an enhanced-looking Splash Screen we will effectively push the Windows developer ecosystem towards adding this visual component of platform consistency to their applications.

[Wait for it...]

When Elvis first heard about Visual Studio Orcas being released, he wasn’t convinced that it was worth upgrading to, especially since he felt as though he had just purchased a copy of Visual Studio 2005. So, like any frugal developer, Elvis went and downloaded a trial copy of Orcas to test drive. Elvis could see that Visual Studio Orcas was new and different from the moment he started the application. The changes in the Splash Screen suggested to him immediately that this release was, indeed, different. (Emphasis mine)

Yes, that's what it actually says. Their solution to Vista-fying the Visual Studio splash screen? Subtracting three pixels from the edges and adding a drop shadow. But don't take my word for it. Here is is the Vistafication of Visual Studio "Orcas":

Woo! That's a whole new Visual Studio, baby! Oh yeah, and that took 9 pages of specs to explain. <whew> Now, I'm sure Microsoft has very good reasons for all of this, and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or anything. But all the sexy Vista UI, and WPF at your disposal, and THAT is the best you could do?

Now I'm not one to tear someone down without offering my own suggestions, so here is an idea. Part of the reason they're not doing anything sexier is because they have to keep the APIs consistent with older versions of the toolset. Couldn't Microsoft build a WPF splashscreen that has a small area of the dialog that hosts a WinForms control that is accessible through COM interop to connect to the exact same APIs?

And while we're at it, can we get the Ribbon in Visual Studio "Orcas" as well? That would be fantastic.

[via Buck Hodges]



  • Marlun said:

    I believe the new look looks less professional than it does in visual studio 2005. The rounded edges only look stupid to me.

    February 7, 2007 3:22 AM
  • futurix said:

    Ribbon in Visual Studio? What's you gonna use it for - live view of local variables in debugger?

    It could be useful in Web Developer though - but not in the rest of the VS. I don't think it should be dumbed even more then it already was.

    February 7, 2007 8:31 PM
  • davidacoder said:

    Please do us all a favour and read the spec carefully. Especially the non-goals. This spec is all about the coding changes needed to enable the drop shadow and transparency. The spec states clearly that another team will provide new graphics for the splash screen at a later time in the release cycle. So this is NOT a spec about the new look of the splash screen, this is a spec about coding changes needed to enable two new options for the graphics design team to use in their remake of the splash screen.

    And please, please, please don't use WPF for a splash screen. Holy cow, the whole point of a splash screen is to bridge load time. To then load a huge library into memory for the display of the splash screen would be patently absurd. The reason they don't use WPF is to keep the start up time of VS short.

    February 8, 2007 5:25 AM