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Microsoft Updates Expression Studio Suite

Microsoft refreshes its Expression Studio Suite with upgrades to all five Expression tools.

One year after launching its tool bundle aimed at bringing developers and designers together, Microsoft has upgraded its Expression Studio suite.

Redmond's Expression Studio 2 consists of updated versions of the five tools in the Expression product family, including: Expression Web, which adds support for PHP and Adobe Photoshop imports; Expression Blend, which adds Silverlight support, a new vertex animation capability and an improved user interface with a split design/Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) view; Expression Design, from which users can now export "slices"; and Expression Media, which adds a digital asset management solution.

Microsoft is billing Expression Studio 2 as an "essential design resource" for the .NET Framework and Silverlight. For example, Web developers can use a combination of the Expression Blend and Design tools to create Silverlight apps, and then employ Expression Web to integrate those applications into a Web site.

Why does Microsoft feel it needs to offer its own design tools to attract creative types to its platform? "We are looking to provide a way for designers to fully participate in the creation of software, Web sites and Web applications built on the Microsoft .NET platform," says Wayne Smith, group product manager in Microsoft's Expression group, in an e-mail.

Smith believes that developers are starting to reach out to designers to provide an enhanced user experience in their applications. He points to Expression Studio 2's support of Silverlight as a key linkage. Silverlight, he says, has been widely acknowledged as a key component of .NET that developers must embrace to achieve higher levels of UX in their projects.

A full version of the software costs $699; upgrades to existing customers are $399. Microsoft is offering free trials, which can be downloaded at microsoft.com/expression.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance author and journalist based in Silicon Valley. His latest book is The Everything Guide to Social Media. Follow John on Twitter, read his blog on ADTmag.com, check out his author page on Amazon, or e-mail him at john@watersworks.com.


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