Microsoft Releases CTPs Of Web Developer Tools
Two new preview versions have been released of Microsoft’s upcoming Expression line of software for designers. These community technology previews (CTPs) of Expression Graphic Designer and Expression Interactive Designer follow on the heels of the first preview of Expression Web Designer.
The Expression line by Microsoft is targeted at Adobe users. Microsoft’s last foray into this market – FrontPage – was generally snubbed, considered a standards-unfriendly tool for beginners. Adobe’s Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and Dreamweaver have enjoyed a strong following of Web developers for years.
Expression should represent a fresh start for Microsoft. Although it still depends heavily on Microsoft’s proprietary technology (such as WinFX), the new release is supposed to respect industry standards, including XHTML, CSS and XML, among others.
The CTPs of both the Graphic Designer, which allows for image editing and creation, and the Interactive Designer, which specializes in user-interfaces, display some improvements that take advantage of the WinFX technology. Early feedback on Microsoft’s discussion forum regarding these CTPs is positive, as is the general feeling about the Web Designer CTP.
Microsoft executives expect Web Designer to launch by year’s end. A 2007 release of Expression Interactive Designer and Graphic Designer is likely, but not certain. Microsoft has been having issues with meeting deadlines; the release of Windows Vista has been pushed back several times, as has that of Office 2007. There has even been a shuffling of execs intended to help the company meet its latest release dates.
If Microsoft can release its Expression line within a reasonable amount of time, it may meet with some success. Adobe has a tight hold on the market, though, and any delays will only further weaken Microsoft’s position. But in the meantime, perhaps the software giant’s CTPs will whet the public’s appetite.