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Microsoft UX Focus Diminished in Visual Studio 2015

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› Microsoft UX Focus Diminished in Visual Studio 2015
  • Published on July 23, 2015

Microsoft launched Visual Studio 2015 last week supporting more languages and platforms than ever, and reinforced the diminished emphasis being placed by Microsoft on UX. Developers who create desktop and mobile apps on the Microsoft stack, whether for Windows, Windows Phone, or Azure, will already be familiar with Visual Studio. Previous versions of Visual Studio emphasized the full application design needs, including a more complete user experience (UX) workflow for wireframing, prototyping, and design along with the development and testing components.

While Microsoft may be focused less on UX, they are expanding their support for a variety of platforms and devices, even those outside the Microsoft family. The new Visual Studio 2015 emphasizes the needs of developers to efficiently code apps for a variety of platforms. The latest version supports app development for Windows, Android, along with iOS and Apple Watch devices and even web apps using HTML and JavaScript. There are included Xamarian libraries for the iOS apps, and emulators for testing code written for the competing platforms. Support for developing apps on these various platforms includes a number of languages, from C# and to Java, JavaScript, and HTML5 as well as C++, Visual Basic, F#, Python, PowerShell, as well as TypeScript and SQL.

XNA Game Studio is still needed for Xbox development, although with the advent of Windows 10 universal apps, we will see some game development folded into Visual Studio when the SDK for Windows 10 is released later this month, which will also support development for HoloLens in addition to the ability to develop for desktop, notebook, tablet, and phones.

To create the UX for all these apps, user experience designers will need to work in external tools such as Balsamiq Mockups and Adobe Illustrator. Sketchflow is gone, and the one remaining front-end design tool for creating user interfaces, Blend, emphasizes XAML, making it useful for Windows app developers, but less than ideal for UX/UI designers wanting to target Apple iOS or Android devices.

It was under the developer-focused Steve Balmer that a UX-focused Microsoft started to take shape, yet the 180-degree turn to reemphasize developers and development tools is made more clear by a search for the term “prototyping” on the Visual Studio site, which yields no results.

Platforms that support the creation of better user experiences may be able to attract more developers as well as more users. Yet Microsoft appears willing to undertake this risk as they re-focus Visual Studio 2015 away from UX and onto the needs of developers. For those needing to learn UX guidelines for Windows 10, American Graphics Institute offers a Windows 10 user experience course among the various UX training classes that are available.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.