Microsoft ships beta of Web site builder (Expression)

    September 6, 2006

Do you remember Microsoft FrontPage?

I do. I was a user of that back before Microsoft owned it (back when it was Vermeer FrontPage).

No tool introduced in the 1990s brought about such contentious debates (most serious Web developers avoided it and held their noses with disdain, mostly cause it was famous for changing your HTML that you hand coded).

Me, I didn’t mind that it changed my HTML. I didn’t want to write HTML anyway. I thought the Web should work like Microsoft Word. Why the hell did we need to write all these little codes like <p> and <h3> and <i>?

That’s the way the Web was back in the good old days. You opened up your editor (NotePad) and typed in HTML by hand.

Yes, today such a thing seems incredibly stupid (but you can still try it, in WordPress there’s a little button marked “HTML” – click it and then you too can experience what developing Web sites in 1994 was like).

Anyway, I tried all the Web editing tools and found FrontPage was the most interesting because it joined a decent editor with a server that could add cool things to your Web site and take them further than most of us could just by coding by hand.

Anyway, that all explains the past of Microsoft’s newest Web editor, Expression. Microsoft is running away from its FrontPage brand because it was so damaged by the impression that it wasn’t a “serious” Web development tool.

I just saw over on Aaron Brethorst’s blog that beta 1 of that has shipped.

Expression, on the other hand, is definitely a serious tool, I got a demo of this before I left Microsoft and it’s quite impressive.

One problem, though.

I think that the way to publish to the Web is to use a blogging tool like WordPress or Moveable Type, or use a content management tool like Drupal.

In such a world Expression doesn’t seem to fit in very well.

But maybe I’m wrong. What do you think? Are you even going to try it? Why or why not?

UPDATE: Aaron just wrote me and said that even with tools like WordPress and Drupal you still need an editor to design the templates and that Expression fits in well here.

That’s an awesome point. I’m downloading now.


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Robert Scoble is the founder of the Scobleizer blog. He works as’s Vice President of Media Development.

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