Lost amid the hype and hoopla of Pixar buying into Disney, new Intel Macs, upgrades to iLife, and Adobe swallowing Macromedia, is Microsoft and their plan for world wide web domination.
“Expression” for Windows may rule the web, despite standards. It’s a new suite of applications from Microsoft that covers the rug with tools for building web sites.
Expression is a trio pack. Graphic Designer, Interactive Designer, and Web Designer. I know what you’re thinking? Why?
It’s all about power and control and money. One of Microsoft’s glaring weaknesses is graphics tools. The previous crowned prince took a princess and became King. Macromedia is now Adobe.
Now Adobe has stiffer competition from Microsoft with Expression. The following is a first impression of Microsoft’s Expression web site, and the trio of tools recently announced.
Without much fanfare, Microsoft unveiled Expression last fall as a new way to do the web. Microsoft’s way.
As Microsoft says, “Expression Graphic Designer and Interactive Designer are currently available for download as Community Technology Previews (CTP[s]). Expression Web Designer and updates of current CTPs will be made available in coming months. Final release dates have not been announced.”
So, don’t get your pantyhose in a twitch. Yet. There’s time for that later.
As you’d expect, GD does graphics. “Expression Graphic Designer can import the following formats: .tif, .psd, .jpg, .bmp, .png, .gif files. Graphic Designer can export the following formats: .tif, .psd, .jpg, .bmp, .png, .gif, .ai, .eps, .pdf, .xaml.”
Manipulation tools are extensive, as are work flow tools. GD handles both vector and bitmap images as simple graphic elements to be manipulated.
Painting and editing tools are also incorporated into GD for both bitmap and vector, though the tools appear to be different.
Microsoft is targeting Adobe (and Macromedia’s Director) with ID, which combines audio, video, bitmap images, vector images, and 3D content into a single application.
Now we know what Microsoft’s been doing in its spare time. They’ve created a plan to overtake Adobe and own the multimedia components of the once and future internet as we know it.
ID is not your father’s Director. It just looks like it. There’s the standard timeline, tools for elements, tools which aid integration (both the other Expression apps, Visual Studio, .Net, and so on).
GD and ID both love XAML (another new markup standard) for constructing web sites, and dynamic desktop multi-media applications. From what I can see of both, simplicity is disguised as a boatload of features.
Microsoft, already getting flogged for not following web standards such as XHTML and CSS is once again going Triple E by launching a fourth “E.” Embrace standards, Extend standards, Exterminate non-Microsoft standards—buy Expression today.
That’s the method of operation, right? Regardless, WD says it’ll create web sites using CSS and XHTML transitional standards, and even include “browser-specific” themes. Hmmm. Sounds like “Extend standards” with features that ONLY run on MSIE.
Taking a hint from other web page design tools, Microsoft’s WD is now pushing CSS as a layout tool. It’s about time. The whole internet has stagnated under Microsoft’s inability to spell s_t_a_n_d_a_r_d_s.
WD has hooks into ASP .Net 2.0 for server and user, so interactive, dynamic sites can be built, and run on Microsoft servers.
This is not a suite of tools designed for the faint of heart. .Mac users need not apply, as simplicity and ease-of-use are nowhere to be found in Microsoft’s online literature regarding Expression’s applications.
There’s no price tag, either, as the suite is not quite ready for prime time. GD and ID are ready as preview releases. Download and enjoy. WD will be made available in a few months.
Expression is Microsoft Office for the graphic designer and web site pro. It’s not competition for iWeb and iLife ‘06.
What’s all this mean for Mac users? Microsoft wants more control, more power, more money, and they’re launching new graphics, design, and web creation tools to own that segment of the market they don’t control. How is that a good thing?
Some of the tools look good, but it’s too early to tell. Now I have to borrow a Windows PC to find out.
Jack D. Miller
No price tags, either, huh? I can imagine about $299 to $499 each at retail, perhaps more the Interactive Designer.
update – Tera Jean Patricks
Accept my apology for a lack of detail regarding Expression. I’m using my parents Sony, so I have to download Expression and set it up with care. Expression is really beta, so I don’t want to obliterate my father’s PC. Well, yes I do, but for other reasons.