Microsoft is still an upstart in the design tools space, but is working to catch up to Adobe Systems' head start.
LAS VEGAS-As part of a host of
announcements at its MIX conference here, Microsoft will announce the release
of a beta of Expression Studio 2.
is Microsoft's designer tools suite, which consists of
Microsoft Expression Web, Expression Blend, Expression Design, Expression Media
and Expression Encoder. Expression Studio is designed to work seamlessly with
Microsoft's Visual Studio, enabling designers and developers to collaborate on
the creation of better user experiences.
Key new features of Expression Studio 2 include PHP support in Expression
Web and support for Silverlight in Expression Web, Expression Blend, Expression
Media Encoder and Expression Design.
Meanwhile, to enable designers to start immediately exploring the power of
Silverlight 2, Microsoft also announced the availability of Expression Blend
2.5 March 2008 Preview, which takes advantage of capabilities in Silverlight 2.
Microsoft also introduced the Expression Professional Subscription, which
includes the full suite along with a number of other programs. Developers can download
Expression Studio here.
Keith Smith, director of product management for the design tools team at
Microsoft, said a year ago the company set the pace for an annual release of
the suite, and the beta of Expression Studio 2 sets the pace for a release to
manufacturing of the product in the first half of 2008. The beta released at
MIX is the first preview of the new Expression Studio technology.
Closing on Adobe
Expression Studio 2 will feature support for Silverlight 1.0, which
Microsoft introduced last September. Yet, the Expression Blend 2.5 March 2008
Preview will support Silverlight 2. Other Expression components will follow
with Silverlight 2 support at a later time, Smith said.
As for the move to support PHP with the Expression tools, "Microsoft
has recognized how important it is to integrate Windows and LAMP [Linux,
Apache, MySQL and PHP/Python/Perl]," Smith said.
Microsoft support for PHP is nothing new, as the company has had a
longstanding relationship with Zend Technologies to support PHP. However, here
with Expression, the PHP support is a nod to its importance to Web designers.
"A lot of designers cut their teeth on PHP," Smith said. "And we
have a better chance of getting folks to look at and consider ASP.Net if we
have support for PHP."