How many people do we have working on Orcas?

Lorenzo Barbieri, an MVP, pointed out the Orcas splash screen spec that's been posted.  I'm guessing that's one of those things that leads to people believing we have an infinite supply of people to develop products, leading to comments like, "I can't believe you still can't do X!"  X is everything from viewing labels in history to rolling back changes to assigning work items to groups of people to continuous integration (wait, we've got that in Orcas :-).  Here are some excerpts.

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.


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.

What impact does the splash screen have on your impression of the product?

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Comments (10)

  1. tzagotta says:

    None; please eliminate it.  A spash screen is just a reminder that the app is taking too long to load.

  2. lynn says:

    Yes. Please elemeninate the splash screen. It’s not necessary.

  3. Jeff Lynch says:


    I tend to disagree. It’s like meeting your future in-laws for the first time. First impressions do count!


  4. I try not to be mean like this, but I’ve gotta call Microsoft out on this one. Someone posted the spec

  5. Dudu Shmaya says:

    It just helps me to know that the app is loading. It should not be eliminated. If you don’t like it you can use /nosplash.

  6. Mike Dunn says:

    >What impact does the splash screen have on your impression of the product?

    Absolutely zero. That spec excerpt sounds like marketdroid-speak. The trick of changing the GUI just enough (like Office rewriting its toolbars every time from 97-2003) to make normal users think it’s a whole new product won’t work on developers. We care about features, not how many gradient colors you can squeeze into your toolbars this rev.

    >The changes in the Splash Screen suggested to him immediately that this release was, indeed, different.

    Does MS really think developers are this shallow? We don’t go "oooh, shiny! must buy!" and it’s insulting to think that time is being spent on useless GUI gimmicks as opposed to, say, building a working IDE that doesn’t leave C++ devs out in the cold.

  7. Gavin Greig says:

    I predict that much more effort will be wasted in mocking this spec and debating its merits than was ever spent on producing it in the first place.

    It’s proposing quite lightweight changes that may not be strictly necessary but will keep the look and feel of Visual Studio reasonably current. That does matter, in a small way. If this sort of work isn’t done, then it builds up until there’s a noticeable credibility gap, requiring greater investment to fix. It’s worth a small investment in keeping up.

  8. Ron O'Rourke says:

    >What impact does the splash screen have on your impression of the product?

    ++ to Mike Dunn’s comments.  A splash screen lets me know the app is loading, but otherwise adds no value.  Display the splash screen so I know the system actually took my request to start the app.

  9. The splash screen has, I should hope, no impact at all on my impression of the product, even the first impression. It could be egregiously ugly without catching my attention.

    The spec itself, however, left a strong negative impression. The two passages you quoted struck me as misguided and unprofessional, and reading the whole spec only reinforced that impression. I posted the specific observations on my blog, linked here.

    I can’t believe Microsoft published such a shoddy piece of work for the world to see, and I am glad your products (even the CTPs) are of significantly higher quality than this.

    One can’t help wondering whether the spec gives a glimpse of some contorted in-house dynamic, where people have to participate in a ritual Product Marketing dance by writing a Mort or Elvis "scenario" for every feature spec, and inflating the value of their work with baseless hyperbole like calling the splash screen "no less critical than *any* other part" of the user experience. (How could anyone say, with a straight face, that *no* part of the VS user experience is more critical than the splash screen?).

    I like a lot of Visual Studio, but to think that "some of the worst aspects" of its user experience could be resolved with a drop shadow and rounded corners and nothing else, well, that’s seeing the half-full glass as full to the brim.

    And really, that Mort-and-Elvis stuff has to go. It pains me to see dinky little stories of these contrived stereotypes masquerading as product marketing wisdom.

    The splash screen improvements themselves are nice and understated, and should have been put in place without a word. :)

    Sorry to be so negative, but this really blew me away. I do criticize your products now and then, but Microsoft has higher standards than this. I hope that’s not changing.

  10. GregM says:

    It has so little impression that no more than one developer-day should be spent on its development.

    The things that do have a *great* negative impression are such things as:

    Removal of a working column select from the editor in 2003 (or was it 2002?  I never used it).

    Removal of the "case sensitive", "whole word", and "regular expression" find toolbar buttons in 2005.

    Disabling the ability to suppress linker errors like missing PDBs in 2003 (not sure if this is back in 2005).

    Removal of the function that used to go to either the next build error or the next find in files result depending on which pane was active.

    Please spend whatever developer time you might have thought about putting towards the splash screen fixing these egregious productivity-draining changes.

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