Download Expression Studio 2.0
The latest version comes with generous subscription terms, but a slightly stingy upgrade offer. Plus, get your Visual Studio hotfixes.
- By Bill McCarthy
Version 2 of the Microsoft Expression Studio has been released to the Web. Expression Web gains support for PHP and ASP.NET 3.5, and it includes improvements in FTP project management. Blend 2 features support for Silverlight 1.0 (not Silverlight 2.0), and Expression Encoder provides the tools for formatting streaming media for use with Silverlight. The Studio release, which includes all the Expression products, has an ERP of $699, up from $599 for version 1.
Given that version 1 is only 12 months old, you might be expecting a substantial upgrade offer: Unfortunately, Microsoft is only offering a free upgrade from version 1 to version 2 if you purchased version 1 between Feb. 24, 2008, and June 1, 2008. If you purchased version 1 in the other 12 months of its release, you’ll have to pay the same as anyone using a competitive upgrade: $349. Be aware that you’ll probably have to upgrade all over again within the upcoming year when Microsoft releases support for Silverlight 2.0. Microsoft hasn’t released any upgrade guarantee for when Silverlight 2.0 is released, so you have to assume the current offer is as-is, without any future free upgrade. If you are forging ahead in the Silverlight 2.0 direction, then beta 2.5 of Blend is the product you should be choosing.
With the release of Expression 2, Microsoft has said it will offer a new subscription that includes Expression Studio, Visual Studio Standard Edition, Office Standard, Visio Professional, Windows XP and Windows Vista, plus some virtual PC tools all for the price of $999.
The exact licensing terms have not been made available yet, but this is a great bargain if they’re the same as the terms for an MSDN license. If you are already a Premium MSDN subscriber, your MSDN subscription includes Expression Blend and Expression Web. If you have an MSDN Team Suite subscription, you get the entire Expression Studio. So if you haven’t got a Team Suite MSDN subscription (ERP $10,939) and you want Visual Studio and Expression Studio, this subscription might be the perfect match product for you. The Expression Studio Professional subscription also includes Parallels Desktop for the Mac, a non-Microsoft product akin to Virtual PC. Presumably this is an attempt to win over some of the Mac crowd of developers.
For more details on the Expression offerings, visit here.
You can now get hotfixes for Visual Studio from two separate sites. The original site provides the hotfixes in an easily sorted grid, and also includes a feedback page where you search on bugs and submit new ones. Recently, Microsoft also decided to make those hotfixes available on the MSDN Code Gallery page. This duplication seems a bit odd, not least because the hotfixes don’t include the source code. However, the new site does have one significant advantage: You might stumble on a hotfix while browsing the code gallery. One hotfix you should install is KB946581, which provides a rollup of performance improvements for editing Web pages in Visual Studio 2008.
Microsoft has also released a product comparison guide for Visual Studio 2008 versions intended to help you determine what’s in the different versions of Visual Studio. An important difference between the Express and Standard Editions is the ability to run third-party tools, which the Express Editions cannot do.
Bill McCarthy is an independent consultant based in Australia and is one of the foremost .NET language experts specializing in Visual Basic. He has been a Microsoft MVP for VB for the last nine years and sat in on internal development reviews with the Visual Basic team for the last five years where he helped to steer the language’s future direction. These days he writes his thoughts about language direction on his blog at http://msmvps.com/bill.