Microsoft has announced a suite of web design and graphics software in a move that will see it take on the traditional designers’ favourite, Adobe.
The software giant’s pitch for the creative design market is based on the concept of closer collaboration between designers and software developers.
The Expression Studio suite has been launched with Expression Web, software for creating standards-based websites.
This is set to be followed in the second quarter of next year by Expression Blend (formerly Interactive Designer) for designing rich interactive elements for Windows and Expression Design (formally Graphic Designer) for creating visual elements for the web and Windows.
The rebranded tools will been enhanced, with a new interface created for professional designers and based on feedback from community technology previews, Microsoft said. A beta release of Expression Blend and the December 2006 CTP of Expression Design are available for download.
The suite will be completed with a new tool, Expression Media, based on the iView MediaPro product acquired by Microsoft earlier this year. This will provide offline access to visual catalogues, making it easier for designers to manage their digital assets.
Microsoft has also released the first CTP of Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E) – a cross-platform browser plug-in for delivering rich media, animation and video content based on Windows Media technology.
The Expression Studio suite will step up competition with creative design specialist Adobe. The two software firms have already been in dispute over the use of fixed document formats in Windows Vista, with Adobe threatening antitrust action to protect its own PDF format.
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