Meet the Team Charged with Making Microsoft Sparkle Shine

To lead its charge into the design-tool space, Microsoft has built a tight-knit team of graphics and design experts from inside and outside the company.

During the past four years, Microsoft maintained secrecy around not only the details of its planned foray into the design-tool space, but also about the team behind that effort.

On Jan. 24, however, the software maker went public with the first test bits of its Expression Interactive Designer tool (code-named Sparkle), as well as about the group that has been developing and testing that tool.

Microsofts Expression team that oversees Interactive Designer, Graphics Designer (code-named Acrylic) and Web Designer ("Quartz") is fewer than 100 people in total. Microsoft wont divulge how many people are on the Sparkle team in particular, but sources have said its roughly two dozen, centered primarily in Redmond, Wash.

The Sparkle team is composed of approximately half veteran Microsoft employees and half recruits from Adobe, Macromedia, Avid and other established players in the professional-design-tool space. The team is building a product dubbed by some company observers as a "Flash killer."

Microsoft officials have not revealed a target delivery date for the final Sparkle code. But company brass did tell attendees of the companys Professional Developers Conference last fall to expect Acrylic and Quartz to ship in calendar 2006.

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