Microsoft launches web design tools

Microsoft has announced a range of products targeting web designers. The product set would see the Redmond OS maker directly taking on design software powerhouse Adobe.

Available as both a fully integrated software suite and standalone packages, Microsoft has themed the new products ‘Expression’.

Expression Web will enable the creation of standards-compliant websites, and is currently shipping as an upgrade to FrontPage. Expression Blend, available in Q2 2007 will be a tool for designing Windows-only rich interactive “experiences”, while Expression Design will be used for designing visuals – logos and the like – for both the Web and Windows operating systems. Rounding off the company’s announcements was Expression Media, a tool for digital asset management and unifying team workflow.

All will be available separately, or as an integrated product called Expression Studio, earmarked for Q2 2007. Trial versions are currently available at the Microsoft Expression website:

Said S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft Corp: “Our goal is to enable designers to collaborate like never before with development teams so that together they can raise the bar for user experiences and deliver compelling, rich, immersive, highly usable applications and content across the Web, the Windows desktop, mobile devices and the digital home."

Expression Web is available for an estimated retail price (ERP) of $299, or $99 for the FrontPage upgrade. Expression Blend will retail at an ERP of $499, Expression Media, $299, and Expression Studio, $599.

The company also released the “community technology preview” (CTP) of Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E), a cross-platform plug-in to be used to view Windows Media and Expression-authored content.

The announcement is a major offensive for Microsoft in a market sector it now sees as crucial to its future. It has launched a series of sites designed to woo the interactive creative community. It has been testing creative applications for some time, but it now has a nearly finished product to roll out. It remains to be seen whether the company will manage to win the battle of hearts and minds that was partially responsible for the proliferation of Flash across the Web. Adobe met with less than spectacular success with its own vector-based tool, Livemotion, in the not so recent past, for example.

Find out more about Microsoft’s designs on design, at