Microsofts Designer Tools Inch Ahead

Microsoft's "Quartz" Expression Web Designer tool is still MIA. A first test release now looks unlikely to make it out at next week's Mix '06 show. As one tester said: "Love the vision; waiting for the tools." (Microsoft Watch)

One of the star attractions of Microsofts Mix 06 confab in Las Vegas next week may not make an actual appearance.

For a few months, Microsoft officials have been telling testers to expect a first CTP (Community Technology Preview) code release of Expression Web Designer to debut during Microsoft Mix, which kicks off on March 20.

That event is the Redmond software makers first conference aimed as much at professional designers as Microsofts traditional audience of developers.

But testers now say they are hearing they will not be getting a first CTP of EWD, code-named "Quartz," next week after all. And Microsoft officials are declining to comment on when the company plans to deliver the first build of Web Designer.

Nonetheless, Microsoft has slated several sessions at Mix 06 that will show off the expected tool and highlight how early private testers have been using the code. And a number of testers are anticipating Web Designers promised capabilities.

"I have not seen Expression Web Designer to date, but the potential for tight integration to the other Expression tools means that it certainly holds promise for XHTML, CSS [Cascading Stylesheets], and ASP {Active Server Pages] interface design," said Nathan Moody, director of creative services at Fluid Inc.

There are a number of possible reasons that could explain the Expression Web Designer hold up, said Jacques Surveyer, a consultant and author of and Web sites.

Surveyer said Microsoft might need the final code for Atlas, its AJAX Web client framework, which is currently in beta test. Or perhaps Web Designer is a victim of "the usual internecine warfare that occurs over Web and database stuff at 1 Microsoft Way," Surveyer said.

Another theory, according to Surveyer: "Microsoft has always regarded the Web interface as Public Enemy No. 1. Can you imagine the strategic battles that are going on over how much Web 2.0 thrust/Live should be allowed to do. This harkens back to the Java wrestling match of eight years ago."

/zimages/2/28571.gifRead the full story on Microsoft Watch: Microsofts Designer Tools Inch Ahead

/zimages/2/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.