NetBeans workspace coloring has traditionally preferred dark text over bright background. However, under some circumstances, e.g., in low-light conditions a darker workspace coloring may be beneficial or at least perceived as easier on the eyes.
For those users preferring dark workspaces there were only insufficient options available so far. It has been possible to choose a dark editor color style, but such choice would not be reflected outside editor window - the workspace would thus suffer from the strong contrast between the dark editor panel and the bright background of the rest of the workspace. Although it is generally possible to change the look and feel of the operating system as a whole, this is not always desirable and always remains suboptimal with respect to NetBeans; for instance the design of icons can not be adjusted in this way.
In current NetBeans daily builds (February 2013) we provide two new Look-and-Feels to address this issue. They offer two slightly different visual styles: Dark Nimbus provides dark content panels on brighter grayish workspace, while Dark Metal provides more uniformly dark workspace. The designs aim at providing well-balanced and legible dark IDE workspace as a whole. To switch NetBeans to one of the new LaFs do the following: in Tools->Options->Miscellaneous->Windows choose either Dark Metal or Dark Nimbus in the "Preferred look and feel" combo box. Then in Tools->Options->Fonts & Colors choose Norway Today in the "Profile" combo box. Restart NetBeans.
The two new LaFs represent work in progress, but have already reached a reasonably usable state. We will keep them improving.
Support for the two dark LaFs is too new and as such could not make it to NetBeans 7.3 release schedule, but will be added to NetBeans 7.3.1. It is already included in daily builds . A simpler version of Dark Nimbus is also available as downloadable plugin .
Please report any remaining issues (especially legibility issues, but also improperly colored UI component leftovers) as part of or in relation to Bugzilla Issue #225542.