Microsoft advancing design tools platform

Eyeing the rich application design space, Microsoft on Monday is detailing milestones in its design tools platform, including the introduction of Expression Media to manage video files, images, and fonts.

The company will announce Expression Studio, a suite of four products. The full suite, however, will not ship until the second quarter of 2007.

Expression puts Microsoft more squarely into the same ballpark with Adobe and its rich media tools such as Flash and Flex. Microsoft, like Adobe, also is factoring in the application developers in its pursuit of the Web design space, according to analyst Bola Rotibi, of Ovum.

"It's allowing the designers to work in their own environments and developers to work in their own environments but to have a shared context," Rotibi said.

With the Expression products, designers build the look of an application. Microsoft's Visual Studio development platform, on the other hand, is for developing the code part of an application, according to Microsoft.

Expression Studio, which will be priced at US$599 for the full suite, features Expression Media, providing digital asset management and team workflow. Based on the iView MediaPro product acquired by Microsoft, it also features Expression Media Encoder for encoding and deploying video and audio.