Microsoft Expresses New Design, Web Products

   On Monday, Microsoft announced its upcoming Expression Studio, a suite of design tools aimed at creative professionals and a new platform for delivering interactive content on the Web. Expression Studio will ship sometime in the first quarter of 2007, but a key component of the suite, a standards-based Web development tool named Expression Web, is available now. Microsoft also announced pricing for its various Expression products.

"The Expression family, together with our Visual Studio development tools and platform technologies, uniquely elevates the craft of design and user experience to the forefront of the software development process," says Microsoft Corporate Vice President S. Somasegar. "Our goal is to enable designers to collaborate like never before with development teams so 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 Studio will include a number of tools, including Expression Web; Expression Blend (formerly Expression Interactive Designer), for designing Windows and Web-based user interfaces; Expression Design (formerly Expression Graphic Designer), for creating professional illustrations and graphics for both Windows and the Web; and Expression Media, for digital asset management team workflow functionality. Expression Media is based on iView's MediaPro solution, which Microsoft purchased in 2006.

On the platform side, Microsoft also announced the first prerelease version of its Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere technologies, which provide Adobe Flash-like Web interactive experiences in both Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) and non-Microsoft browsers. Both Expression Design and Expression Media can author content that targets Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere, Microsoft says.

Microsoft Expression Studio will retail for $599 and be available as a $349 upgrade to any user who purchases a standalone Expression product. Expression Web, available now, costs $299, or $99 as an upgrade from FrontPage. Expression Blend will retail for $499, and Expression Media will cost $299. Many of these products are available as prerelease downloads from the Microsoft Web site. The company is offering a 60-day trial version of Expression Web.

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