Microsoft Introduces Expression Studio, Enhances Family of Professional Design Tools

From: Microsoft

Expression Web shipping, Expression Media announced; latest technology previews deliver product and new platform advancements with first CTP of WPF/E.

REDMOND, Wash. — Dec 4, 2006 — Microsoft Corp. today announced significant product line enhancements along with pricing and availability of the Microsoft® Expression® Studio for creative professionals. The quality of user experience is emerging as a core requirement for differentiating products and services while optimizing customers’ brand loyalty. Expression Studio, a key component of Microsoft’s strategy for improving the user experience delivered by applications, provides designers with an end-to-end tools platform that boosts collaboration with developers in the delivery of next-generation user experiences for the Web, Windows Vista™ applications and beyond.

Expression Studio comprises Expression Web for creating standards-based Web sites; Expression Blend (formally Interactive Designer) for designing rich interactive experiences for Windows®; Expression Design (formally Graphic Designer) for the design of visual elements for Web and Windows experiences; and a new tool, Expression Media, which provides digital asset management and unifies team workflow across the suite. Expression Web is shipping today, and the full Expression Studio is planned for delivery in the second quarter of 2007.

“The Expression family, together with our Visual Studio® development tools and platform technologies, uniquely elevates the craft of design and user experience to the forefront of the software development process,” said S. Somasegar, corporate vice president of the Developer Division at Microsoft Corp. “Our goal is to enable designers to collaborate like never before with development teams so together they can raise the bar for user experiences and deliver compelling, rich, immersive, highly usable applications and content across the Web, the Windows desktop, mobile devices and the digital home.”

Better Design Tools for Better User Experiences

Product enhancements unveiled today in Expression Blend and Expression Design include a new user interface crafted specifically for professional designers and based on extensive feedback following more than half a million downloads of Expression community technology previews (CTPs). Expression Blend Beta 1 and the Expression Design December 2006 CTP are available for download.

Expression Media, based on the iView MediaPro product acquired by Microsoft earlier this year, supports more than 100 media formats and provides offline access to visual catalogs, making it easier for creative professionals to manage and use their digital assets. Expression Media includes Expression Media Encoder, a complete solution for the preparation, encoding and deployment of rich video and audio for Web and Windows experiences. A first CTP of Expression Media is expected early in 2007.

Also made available today is the first CTP of Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E). WPF/E is a cross-platform browser plug-in for delivering rich media, animation and video content based on the Emmy Award-winning Windows Media® technology, the industry’s most pervasive media platform for the Web, desktop and devices. Expression Media and Expression Design provide support for authoring content for the WPF/E CTP.

“The Expression tools leave no doubts about the seriousness with which Microsoft takes the importance of the user experience, both in the creation of applications and the use of applications,” said Bola Rotibi, senior analyst at Ovum Ltd. “Organizations will increasingly seek to differentiate their end-user services and retain and grow their customer base by delivering superior application user experiences. Microsoft’s product strategy acknowledges what we believe to be the new battle lines for environments tasked with delivering user-facing applications.”

New Resources, Downloads, Pricing and Availability

A new design professional community resource that includes forums, video demos and team blogs was launched today at http://www.microsoft.com/design. The Web site underscores Microsoft’s vision for creative design and user experience, offering a behind-the-scenes view of the design process for major projects such as Xbox 360™, Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office system. Technology downloads can be accessed at the updated Expression site at http://www.microsoft.com/expression and include a free full-version 60-day trial of Expression Web. With the first CTP of Expression Media expected early in 2007, customers can read about and download iView MediaPro at http://www.iview-multimedia.com. The debut WPF/E CTP can be downloaded from http://www.microsoft.com/wpfe.

Microsoft also unveiled final product pricing and availability for the complete Expression product family. Expression Web is available for an estimated retail price (ERP) of $299 (U.S.), and qualifying users of FrontPage® can upgrade to Expression Web for $99 ERP. Shipping in the second quarter of 2007, Expression Blend will be available for $499 ERP, Expression Media for $299 ERP, and the full Expression Studio for $599 ERP. When it ships, Expression Studio will also be available as a $349 ERP upgrade to users who have purchased Expression Web and other qualifying Microsoft products. Full product pricing and availability information is available on the http://www.microsoft.com/expression. All Expression products for English-speaking markets will include getting-started video training courtesy of Total Training Inc. Comprehensive video training will be available for purchase separately at http://www.totaltraining.com/expression.

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