Microsoft also released several components of the Microsoft Web Platform, an integrated set of tools, servers and frameworks that work seamlessly together and interoperate with popular open-source applications and products that are used in the community, the company said. Included in the Microsoft Web Platform vision is the Web Platform Installer 2.0 Beta, a tool that simplifies the installation and update of Microsoft's free Web products and other free Web components. This release allows users to download both PHP and the final release of ASP.Net MVC 1.0. Microsoft also launched the Windows Web Application Gallery, which allows developers to discover, explore and download applications and components that will help them build Web applications. Developers can submit free applications into the Gallery, offering communities, partners and independent software vendors access to millions of Windows developers worldwide for promoting their Web solutions. The Gallery includes links to popular applications such as Acquia Drupal, DotNetNuke and WordPress.In addition, Microsoft announced that Soyatec, a France-based IT solutions provider and Eclipse Foundation member, is making available a community technology preview (CTP) of Eclipse Tools for Silverlight (Eclipse4SL) support for Macintosh. With this Eclipse plug-in, Mac developers can create RIAs for the Silverlight platform. This project is funded by Microsoft. Also, at Microsoft, more than 200 products and Websites are now using Silverlight, including Microsoft.com, MSN, Live Search, Windows Live, Microsoft Office Online, Virtual Earth and the live preview release of the Silverlight-based WorldWide Telescope application. Another cool new feature Microsoft will be delivering as part of Expression Web 3 its SuperPreview feature. SuperPreview is a tool that enables developers to compare different rendering engines in a single interface. Guthrie said the tool helps to show developers "how to build a CSS/HTML site across al browsers." Eric Saltwell, group program manager for Expression Web, said SuperPreview makes the process of building apps that run on different Websites easier. Essentially it checks for Website compatibility, SuperPreview helps you create applications that run well on all browsers, not only the various Internet Explorer versions, but also Firefox and others. Microsoft has made a beta of the technology and it will be available with Expression Web 3. And the company also is making a standalone version available for free that supports Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8. Buxton said the number of designers at Microsoft has grown significantly over the past few years since he came to the company. "We don't just talk the talk, we walk the walk," he said. Buxton said when he arrived at Microsoft there were no top executives at the company with a design background and now there are 10. "The UX [user experience] headcount has grown 150 percent and we're growing UX people faster than we're growing engineers." Indeed, Buxton said one of his favorite products coming out of the company is the Arc Mouse, which was designed by Microsoft's new crew of designers. Also, Buxton said he is proud of the Zune, because despite Apple's iPod having that "whole space driven..." The Zune's evolution is remarkable because it has been able to go "from a standing start to having something that is world class." Finally, in addition to platform investments to enable front-end experiences, enhancements to the back-end platform include updates to the Azure Services Platform. And at MIX, Microsoft announced new capabilities in Windows Azure including support for full trust to increase the level of flexibility for developers through support of native code, non-.Net language support via FastCGI, and geolocation to provide developers with the capability to host data and code across two U.S.-based data centers; this enables customers to store data in multiple locations while helping ensure business continuity, and delivers enhanced performance benefits through reduced network latency, Guthrie said.
Microsoft also announced the availability of Microsoft Commerce Server 2009, which allows businesses to create improved user experiences across e-commerce channels.