Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Apparently Web Developers Don't Do Web Design

Or so Microsoft says. When I read on ActiveWin that Microsoft wasn't going to be including Expression Web on MSDN, I was shocked. Microsoft is notoriously in-tune with its developers, and is usually very good to them. So I pinged my friend Brian Goldfarb, who is in charge of product marketing for DevDiv. He had this to say:

Until now, Microsoft did not have a tool aimed at the professional designer and now FrontPage has been superseded by both Expression Web and SharePoint Designer, we now have a comprehensive offering of Visual Studio 2005 (including Visual Web Developer) for developers, Expression Web for designers and SharePoint Designer aimed at IT Professionals who work with SharePoint sites. MSDN is a subscription model aimed at developers, therefore Microsoft has taken the decision not to include it’s designer tools in the Microsoft Expression range in that model. However because Microsoft includes Office products in MSDN, SharePoint Designer as part of the Office 2007 System is available through MSDN and it offers the same high fidelity design surface as Expression Web.

I'm sorry, Brian is a great guy, and I LOVE the DevDiv, but this is a load of crap. Because the assumption that web developers don't also have to be web designers is totally false, and SharePoint Designer is NOT as good as Expression Web. Otherwise there would be one product and not two.

The fact that there is a ton of horrible web design out there means that coders are writing web UI every day. Just because Microsoft doesn't have a tool out there doesn't mean that the industry hasn't had tools to do good UI work. And Microsoft would be stupid to think that just because they DO come out with a tool, that suddenly coders and corporations are going to see the errors of their ways, and start separating their duties.

Coders are still going to be doing UI, and VS2005 sucks at CSS. I guess Microsoft is tired of shelling out free stuff to developers.

Oh, well. Guess I'll be using the beta version until it expires.



  • anonymous said:

    lol their own web design product creates "standards-complaint" web sites which are not rendered perfectly by their own Internet Exploder. IE Team are u listening?

    December 1, 2006 10:32 PM
  • anonymous said:

    As a web developer working for the government I don't have the luxury to let professional designers take care of the design. I would've used the Expression stuff if it was included in my MSDN subscription, but if I have to pay I'll stick with Fireworks/Dreamweaver/Flex. After the problems I've had with Windows Vista and the activitation and DRM stuff they're pushing down our throats I'm beginning to have some very serious doubts about the 'road ahead'...

    December 2, 2006 6:46 AM
  • Jean-Loup said:

    I heard Expression hav been RTM'ed, do you know were i can find a trial ?

    December 2, 2006 10:00 AM
  • peacho said:

    Jean-Loup: It hasn't yet. You can however download a free trial of Beta 1 (if that makes any sense), here:

    Wow. Yeah, that is a really stupid move on MS's part. I like EWD, but you know, I don't really do real in depth site coding. Mostly design - so it's the right tool for me.

    December 2, 2006 1:19 PM
  • Rick Strahl said:

    Ah I just posted an entry about this as well:

    This seems silly beyond belief given that Microsoft is fighting an uphill battle against Dreamweaver - the first thing they need is a foot in the door and getting developers to like it and sneak it by designers is a good start.

    It doesn't help that this will piss off lots of people who will rightfully think Microsoft is arbitrarily changing the rules of what goes into MSDN subscriptions.

    December 2, 2006 6:52 PM
  • Jason Haley said:
    December 2, 2006 7:00 PM
  • Kevin Dente said:

    It's even worse than that, because Expression Web isn't a web design tool at all. Designers don't work in HTML and CSS, that's production work. Microsoft's real tool for designers is Expression Graphic Design - now that product I could see not providing as part of MSDN. Expression Web is really a development product, and as such should be included  in MSDN.

    Does this mean Interactive Designer (aka Sparkle) won't be in MSDN either?

    December 2, 2006 10:29 PM
  • Brandon LeBlanc caught wind of the new branding for the Expression products . But what is the "Expression

    December 3, 2006 2:29 AM
  • Simon said:

    One one hand, I am disappointed by this decision but look more closely at what Expression Web doesn't do:

    Integrate nicely with SourceSafe

    Integrate at all with Team Foundation Server

    Allow 3rd party controls to be styled

    Allow 3rd party controls to be added to the toolbox

    Overall as a solution to allow designers and developers to work better together ;-) v1 of Expression falls a long and I mean long way short.  Perhaps the decision to include Expression with MSDN will change when the product sufficiently lives up to the expectations of those who would use it.

    Then of course you have the issue of Expression Blend (Interactive Designer)... who,  exactly, is going to pay for Blend on top of MSDN in order to produce some XAML for someone else to open up in VS2005 and add the magic?  All that will happen is that nothing will happen with the WPF (or indeed WPF/E) platform until the tools are available as Expression or delivered in "Orcas/Cider".

    December 3, 2006 9:39 AM
  • Forest Key said:

    I work in DevDiv at Microsoft, but with a greater focus on the "designer" business, so let me chime in here with a few thoughts:

    First, we understand very well that "designer" and "developer" are really poor terms to capture the diversity of the skill set and personal passions of the folks that build web experiences (content, applications, etc.).  Clearly there are folks that could be called one or the other, but increasingly the discipline of both design and development fits into a "continuum" (if you will) of skills that are needed by individuals and teams building out the web.

    With that in mind, we are actively working on both ends of the continuum--the very "designer" oriented toolset for focusing on the look and behavior of a website using modern CSS techniques for both styling and layout (Expression Web), and at the same time, the more traditional "development" focus on data integration, deployment, and functionality (the emphasis historically for “developers” and our Visual Studio productline).

    To the question of MSDN subscriptions—yes, as Brian correctly explains, the Expression product line is very much focused on a “different” customer.  I myself was a former “designer”, and trust me, my needs are very different than those served by VS, and likewise, what I find marvelous about Expression would likely be of less interest to most “developers”.  That said, clearly there is a need for “design capabilities” for designers, and “developer capabilities” for designers.  While we have been working hard for 3+ years now on our first release of Expression, we clearly are not going to achieve our entire vision in V1, but we ARE making huge strides in improving the designer developer collaboration, and I think you’ll agree once you have a chance to get your hands on the full Expression product line (coming very soon!).  For MSDN subscribers, the inclusion of Sharepoint Designer will be a *very* good solution for CSS design and Sharepoint Site development… trust me, if you take a good look you will not be disappointed… the core technology is shared across Expression Web and Sharepoint Designer, and differences in the two will emerge mostly in future releases as Expression Web continues to pursue “web designers” and Sharepoint Designer focuses on Office Sharepoint site design AND development—both working increasingly well with Visual Studio and the VSTS.

    Stay tuned for more news on this entire product lineup in the very near future.

    December 3, 2006 12:23 PM
  • I'm sorry Forest... I appreciate you coming on and leaving your comments very much, but I don't buy that answer. Don't tell me what I think will be a good solution. How about letting us make the choice instead of making it for us? What if I don't want to use SharePoint Designer? Isn't that only for SharePoint? If it was for more than SharePoint, why was the name changed?

    Clearly, you guys have not been talking to low- and mid-level companies, because there are a TON of people who don't fit into one mold or the other, and that's not going to magically disappear just because you guys came out with a new product. Quire often, developers prototype UI that ends up making it into the final application. Maybe not for highly-visible Web 2.0 companies, but for everyday companies that have an IT department building Microsoft solutions.

    And I don't understand why Microsoft would piss away a perfect opportunity to grab instant market share by making it available on MSDN. Microsoft's usually not in the habit of screwing developers... that's why it's so surprising.

    You're playing both ends against the middle, which is a very bad idea.

    December 3, 2006 1:34 PM
  • Forest Key said:

    Thanks for the welcome to participate in the discussion; all of us on the product and marketing teams crave opportunities to discuss/engage with the community and our VS customers, so I'm thrilled to be able to discuss with you.

    One correction to my earlier response, which should have read: "clearly "designers" sometimes need "development" capabilities, and "developers" need "designer" capabilities"".  Notice that with all the quotations, I'm trying to pay due tribute to the absurdity of these labels, which are much too abstract to define in wholly distinct groupings (as I said earlier), but the labels to convey the "continuum of skills" that exists.

    Robert, it seems to me that (perhaps) what you are most strongly reacting to is the naming convention itself, and heaven forbid that I should try to convince you that our names are smack-on perfect in this (or any) case :) ?

    You're right, I don't know what you'll think... but I do know what *many* users think because we spent *a lot* of time with our customers developing these solutions over the last 3 years!  Based on what we know from our research, and talking to customers of *all* market segments (1 person shops all the way up to 500 person web dev teams), we have made the best decisions we could, with a real overriding focus on our customers, developers (Visual Studio), intra-department office workers (Sharepoint Designer), and designers (Expression Web).  Furthermore, the solutions need to be partially considered (at least by us) as part of a 3-7 year plan... these are not static products, but living projects where we are already well underway planning future releases.  We believe that a hard core web "designer" will have distinct needs and aspirations, and by having a separate product line for this customer segment, we aim to please.  That in NO WAY takes away from our web developer focus, far from it--we are already well underway on exciting capabilities for future versions of VS, which you'll be able to look at in the ongoing Visual Studio "Orcas" CTPs as they continue to be made available...

    December 3, 2006 5:59 PM
  • Forest, I appreciate your dialog as well, so I'll tone down my comments.

    My concern for labels stems from the fact that Microsoft used these labels as explanation for their decision on that matter. I'm aware of the plans to integrate the same layout engine in "Orcas". I'm also aware of the fact that Orcas is still 4-8 months out.

    I'm not debating the reasoning for segmenting the products' target markets. You guys are great at figuring that stuff out. My point is that the people who buy those products are not necessarily going to fall into your master planned segments, and skipping an opportunity to gain market share at the expense of developers is an opportunity wasted.

    The bottom line is, I'm reacting to the fact that I'm going to have to pay for a product that I feel should be made available as a part of MSDN. That's what I paid for MSDN for... and now I have to shell out another couple hundred bucks to troubleshoot CSS... which is what Visual Studio should have been doing long before Orcas. And that's about as honest as I can possibly be about it.

    December 4, 2006 2:04 AM
  • Expressions said:

    I find it incomprehensible that Expression will NOT be made available to MSDN subscribers .

    December 4, 2006 3:04 AM
  • Jack said:

    Microsoft needs to update VS2005 if Expression Web is left out of MSDN.

    Noone will buy Expression Web even though it seems like an excellent application. Microsoft needs the developer community to help the product get some market share.

    December 4, 2006 4:21 AM
  • Sam Jack said:

    Where does Expression Blend fit in with all this? I am a developer, but I would be very dissapointed if Blend is not included in MSDN Subscription.

    December 4, 2006 5:08 AM
  • Joe Brinkman said:

    I totally get Microsoft's point.  I mean look:  MSDN is where you go to get great development tools like Great Plains, and Axapta and Point of Sale 1.0 and Publisher and Business Contact Manager.  It's also not as if developers would need Expression Web Designer for doing web dev work since there is MS Frontpage.  And since Expression will ship with every conceivable add-on ever dreamed of, its not like developers will be asked to create new add-ons or extensions for Expression like we used to do for Frontpage.  And really, I totally expect ORCAS designer to be completely on par with Expression Web Designer because the various tool development groups across Microsoft communicate and share code so well.  Why look at Microsoft Office Publisher 2007.  See how well the Publisher team incorporated the nifty toolbars from Office 2003 into the interface.  I am sure the web design team will insist that we get all of the latest web design tools in ORCAS, like that nifty designer they have in Frontpage 2003.

    December 4, 2006 5:47 AM
  • Replying to a variety of things on this thread...I work with Forest on the marketing team

    To Robert's are getting a replacement for FrontPage in your MSDN subscription -- Sharepoint Designer.  We aren't leaving you high & dry here - you will still have a web development tool.  Also, if you want Expression Web, you can get it for $99 - you actually qualify for the upgrade b/c you were presumably a FrontPage user at one time.

    Also, if we come out & say that it is a designer product and we don't include it in MSDN, then it isn't a developer product?  That's a bit of a stretch if you ask me.  We're positioning the product at the designer audience...but devs can and certainly will have a great experience with this product.  Certainly some devs will just choose to use the copy of Sharepoint Designer that comes in the MSDN subscription, and that's fine.

    I'll be posting more about this on my blog later in the week - I'm happy to carry on the conversation there.

    December 4, 2006 12:56 PM
  • John Walker said:

    Wait...I pay close to $2,000.00 for a 1 year MSDN subscription, yet you want me to shell out $99.00 more for Expression? What an absolute joke. Makes me want to puke...and I believe anyone here defending the decision must, deep-down, feel this is an idiotic decision too.

    December 4, 2006 2:38 PM
  • Mike Gale said:

    There are enough barriers between people already.

    Some people really want to do a broad range of things and some do great work across a broad range.  (Some don't  want to be a narrow specialist when they can be more like Leonardo.)  Also most just have to do several things.

    Not to mention the programmers who would do much better work if they grokked the XHTML and CSS their products fail to do very well!!

    Now Microsoft wants to do social engineering.  Put people in tiny little boxes, reduce their lives, shape society in a way that looks more like the dark satanic mills of the past and not the future.


    December 4, 2006 2:55 PM
  • Simon said:

    From the overview for the download of the WPF/E SDK...

    "To assist with the development process we recommend using Visual Studio 2005 in addition to this SDK. To help with design, we recommend using Microsoft Expression Design and Microsoft Expression Blend. In order to integrate the end result with web pages we recommend using Microsoft Expression Web."

    So that'll be MSDN for VS2005 but for Blend + Design + Web.  What's that sound?  That'll be the collectively shuffling of developers feet to a new platfrom that we are supposed to adopt & promote.

    December 4, 2006 5:29 PM
  • Dawn said:

    If Expression Web is an application and not going to be part of MSDN, then why is all the training found in the MSDN and why is all of it developed for the "developer"?

    December 4, 2006 6:17 PM
  • DeanJ said:

    There's no doubt it should be included in MSDN.  It's fine for Microsoft to say it's for "designers", but designers *** ARE *** ultimately developers...CSS is software development and still programming code, just code for another piece of software called a browser.  I don't know who they think they're kidding.  I agree with Dawn, the craziest thing is that Microsoft uses MSDN to hold documentation and tech. articles for it's products including Expression Web, and then lets MSDN subscribers get just a subset of the products talked about on MSDN.

    Bottom line:  too big of a company that lets people who aren't in touch make decisions.

    December 5, 2006 12:41 AM
  • Designing Developer said:

    "Also, if you want Expression Web, you can get it for $99"

    Aha, so it's not 'Developers! Developers! Developers!' but 'Money! Money! Money!'. Thanks Microsoft, I'll keep it in mind when we have to renew our VL/Technet/MSDN subscriptions. Or should we just buy an extra MS Designer subscription...

    December 5, 2006 4:08 AM
  • Colin said:

    You know, these are Microsoft's products so they can do what they want, but this kind of feedback should figure into their plans.

    I just spent some time training up on WPF with a view to using what I expect to be a killer UI platform for my next product.  As a long-time systems and product developer for Windows, I really appreciate the separation of UI from code: this is the way to go.  But what it means for me is that I will spend more time designing the various UIs that calls into my back end.  That's me moving up the value chain, but I am still responsible for coding the product.

    I want VS2005 to do a lot of the developer work including debugging etc, and I fully expected to use Expression Interactive Designer to do a lot of the drudge work on the UI and still work with VS projects.  Did I miss the boat here?  Is Expression Interactive Designer really not for developers like me?

    This is somewhat reminiscent of the Windows 3.1 days when I had to use Borland's Resource Workshop to design my UI resources because their editor was great and I was sick of coding .rc files by hand.  Now here we have EID and it isn't part of MSDN?

    Odd, but hopefully this will be changed.

    December 5, 2006 11:30 AM
  • December 5, 2006 12:03 PM
  • FluffyDevilBunny said:

    It's simple, if the product and they way it works is not designed for developers then we don't have to support it. SO DON'T SUPPORT IT.

    If developers won't support the SDK then designers won't support the UI. Product adoption requires the whole team not just one "designer".

    Forcing us to upgrade to that $10,000 copy of MSDN last year so that we could be Architects, Testers and Developers and now you want more money for us to be a Designer too. Funny thing is out of all the fortune 500 companies I have consulted with in my carreer (23 of them) only 1 had a creative department and 20 of them would only allow development with products in MSDN.

    So I say this won't last, or the product won't last.

    December 5, 2006 6:41 PM
  • Wesley Shephard said:

    I have to say that recent moves in the MSDN area have given me the feeling that Microsoft is forgetting its roots. I remember when MSDN Universal was an affordable way to have access to test servers and development tools that allowed me to pitch to my clients Microsoft's solutions. Nearly everything developer "related" was in the package.

    The new "Team System" approach speaks to high end development houses, but left a sour taste in my mouth as I was forced to pick from one of the Team System products. The bitter irony is that us "little guys" do all of those tasks by ourselves, thus requiring a heavy financial cost to get the broad spectrum, or picking a tool that mostly matched what we do all day. So I picked "Team System Developer" and miss out on the Architect tools and the Test tools. I pick up the slack with open source and third party products: additional costs again.

    Now it appears that on the low end we are getting nickled and dimed as well. "We will extend your subscription a month" if you stop getting DVDs. Failing to provide the more tangental developer tools. Months of "nothing at your subscriber level" "shipments".

    I used to rail against Apple because they charged so much for devleopment kits and praised Microsoft for reasonable practices with the small shops like mine. Not anymore.

    December 6, 2006 11:40 AM
  • zlobniytip said:


    December 6, 2006 12:04 PM
  • Dirk said:

    I've been holding out on choosing a "role" for my MSDN Universal subscription (took a 2-yearly subscription, since I didn't think I would ever want to quit it). I now seriously think I will not renew and buy a VS standard license (not specifically because of this designer issue, but because apparently I just can't trust them to make a decision that benefits me in my situation; the prices go up and they still take things away; who knows what's next: choose between Team Edition for CSS Developers and Team Edition for Table Developers?).

    I almost exclusively do web development and many tools are being made available for free or open source alternatives are available (I already use several, including apps like Subversion and Notepad2). I may even "go extreme" and try the Express series for a while to see if I would really miss something. The money saved can be spent on my Red-Gate, Telerik etc subscriptions. (note that I am not very fond of Red-Gate's habit of bundling successfull products with useless ones, but hey I can't boycott them all, right :-))

    December 6, 2006 12:34 PM
  • Shawn B. said:

    Well, this stereotyping is beginning to show Microft's true colors.  First, the devided developers and testers and architects into a seperate conceptual level... for most developers, get a Premium and an optional team tool.  Because MSDN is for developers.  If you're a team, you'll need to purchase Team Suite/Foundation seperately, because MSDN is for developers developers developers but not teams.  Funny thing is, testers I've worked with aren't programmers and don't use Visual Studio but do need testing tools, but in MS vision, they need to be developers first and testers second + $4k richer than most.

    Now Microsoft is saying MSDN is for developers, not designers.  Have they forgotten how hard they pushed for ASP.NET and web applications?  Expression Web is really the same market segment as ASP.NET developers.  But somehow they seperated it and said no its not.  The truth is, the same people writing code-behind/beside all day are also the ones producing most HTML/CSS in the same application.  Web development will continue to be the same because they won't be exposed to tools that are more productive.

    I don't know about Blend and Designer, but I think those are development tasks as well but here's my prediction: Microsoft doesn't care.  You're a designer (pay for design tools) or a developer (pay for MSDN) or a team (pay for MSDN + Team Suite).  I'm spotting a trend.  My MSDN is losing its value each year (I pay for it out of my pocket without reimburse).

    In fact, being a Microsoft developer in general is losing its value each year.

    But, its their tools.  Let them screw their customer base any way they choose.  I'm sure there's a fair number of shops and developers that will continue to not care.  I doubt the number of ones who do care are significant to change Microsoft's mantra from "Money, Money, Money" back to "Developers Develepors, Developers" again.  Ever since Balmer took over MS has lost its roots.



    December 6, 2006 1:48 PM
  • Sparkle said:

    When I first saw a Sparkle demo, I was really thrilled. Now I would be able to create RIAs without being a Flash designer. It never crossed my mind that it wouldn't be included in MSDN. This year Microsoft has PO'd me more than all the years before. I'm now seriously considering to cancel my MSDN subscription. FU, Microsoft.

    December 6, 2006 1:52 PM
  • Sparkle said:

    Btw, never before have I seen so many developers be angry at MS. Time to wake up, Ballmer! You're losing your most avid supporters.

    December 6, 2006 2:01 PM
  • Mitch said:

    I pay for my own msdn subscription with hard earned money and I am a one person shop. I do everything that needs to be done. I have been a microsoft developer for years, and the best way to sum up the way I feel lately is : SCREWED !!! The reasoning that microsoft uses reveals so clearly  that its just plain out of touch. You dont need an expensive focus group to decide what goes in to MSDN, its common sence !!!. Get a grip !!! Its NOT a product set, but fundamentally meant to be a tool set for developers to support (read you own freakin licence agreement MS ) the various products. Microsoft really needs to catch a wake up as the moods of disenchantment are brewing

    December 6, 2006 6:32 PM
  • Mike said:

    This is a big mistake ...... I am a professor in a uk university. we have been members of MSDNAA (academic alliance) and all of our computing graduates have extensive experience of VS05 but for their design work they use Dreamweaver.

    In some cases it would make sense for them to use Expression but not if it is not available on MSDN.

    With this negative attitude then many hundreds of graduates from our university (and potentially many thousands elsewhere ) will miss exposure to this tool

    This is not good thinking

    December 7, 2006 7:34 AM
  • This is so weird. I have been working on Web UIs for years now and Frontpage was not the best option even though it was available through MSDN. And even with a product like Expression, that will compete with giants like Dreamweaver in its coat, MSFT will never shoot it the top unless they give the opportunity to all UI developers to make the maximum use of it.

    All UI developers will still stick to Dreamweaver to get the very most important things done. I think there are more "developer ***. UI designers" than pure "UI designers" waiting to get their hands on Expression.

    December 7, 2006 10:47 PM
  • Tzu-Yie said:

    Does anybody compare the differences between Expression Web and SharePoint Design?  What's the major difference?

    December 8, 2006 9:38 AM
  • Mikey said:

    Well, as said, VS bites the big one for CSS editing. VS spits out the worst code for SEO. I havn't tried Expression, and don't plan on it. Our company won't use VS for any of our sites we want ranked in the search engines. So even as I build back end data driven apps with VS 2005 for some of our business clients on a day to day basis. I much prefer Dreamweaver for web design and CSS. And after paying the big bucks for an MSDN for the last 4 years. I won't be giving MS much more of my money as long as they make Horse S*** decisions like this. I'd much rather give it to Adobe for their next version of  their Studio bundle. At least they are realistic about the work people do today and the multiple hats developers wear.

    Screw MS.

    December 8, 2006 3:18 PM
  • Robert McLaws started an interesting discussion on his blog about Expression Web and MSDN . I gave Robert

    December 9, 2006 5:14 PM
  • Kim Kman said:

    Expression Web uses tools, add-ins etc. Who will develop these, the designers? Many of my clients using MS products will expect my support of this MS product. Pretty silly not to include it in MSDN. All MS products should be as it is the developers that support them and increase their value to the end user.  If it were not for my support of MS products many of my web clients would be running PHP, MySQL etc. Get with the program here and do not sell us short.

    December 9, 2006 5:42 PM
  • jamey said:

    I could care less if they give away the expression web designer as long as visual studio has the new 'guts' of web designer in the new version.

    I own macromedia studio and *will not* upgrade to adobe whenever the next version comes out. I loved macromedia because they were an alternative to adobe but now they are no longer.

    To be honest, even dreamweaver doesn't handle css as well as everyone thinks, at least most of my cross browser (ie6 /ff) pages never look right in DW or VS so I end up just coding all html.

    So to that end it would be nice If the new visual studio gets here before the next dreamweaver / adobe combo.

    December 9, 2006 10:37 PM
  • Christopher Pfeil said:

    We are an ISV and loves building applications based on the latest available technologies. We go to the customer tells how cool Microsoft products like Windows, SQL, Exchange, Sharepoint,… are.

    Msdn makes us hot years before the release of a new technology.

    An now? Msdn subscription not includes Expression, Team System Database Developers,…  

    Steve: What is with developers, developers, developers?

    You need the developers to build WPF-Apps,… to sell Vista!

    December 10, 2006 11:06 AM
  • smokinmunky said:

    In my shop, the "designer" sends me a photoshop file of what the completed site is supposed to look like.  Then me, the "developer", slices it up, creates the css and html for the site.  Once completed, i take that then integrate it in to the content management system I've created for the company.

    So in my opinion one of two things need to happen.  Add expression functionality to visual studio OR add expression to msdn.

    I would much rather see expression functionality added to visual studio, but until that is included with vs, expression should be added to msdn.

    and if MS really wants to give flash a run for it's money.  Add the expression studio to msdn.  It is us, "the developers" that build products for the platform that in turn sell more windows web servers.  It is us, "the developers", who build apps using sql server that sell more copies of sql server.  

    We should be getting some sort of commission for these duties.  Like some f#$%ing tools to help us sell more of microsoft's products.

    December 11, 2006 8:34 AM
  • Peter H said:

    I am profoundly disappointed with the MSDN powers that be, with their decision not to include the Expression range of products in the MSDN subscription.

    Stunned actually!!

    At the beginning of the year I emailed MSDN support to ask if the Expression range would be included in the MSDN subscription. At the time I was told that it certainly would be. I asked this as I did not want to waste my time during the Beta phase of the Expression products if they were not going to be included in the MSDN subscription. I also wanted to continue with MS development (Designer ... call the role what you will) range of products (single source reasons) rather than having to go to Adobe for their Studio 8 product Suite.

    For the people within MS telling me which tool I should be using and is best for my purposes, really is beyond the palel!!!

    December 11, 2006 9:07 PM
  • Steve J said:

    I saw an MSDN event back on Sep or Oct. Guess what new tool (suite) was featured? Right.

    Maybe that talk should have gone into the TechNet half of the day, or else some yet to be formed MS(Office)DN event track. I've been buying MSDN since the start am unlikely to ever renew.

    It really seems like MS is actively discouraging renewals and perhaps intends to phase out MSDN altogether.

    December 12, 2006 2:30 PM
  • Marc T said:

    It is unfortunate for Microsoft not to include the expression line in their MSDN subscriptions.  Where I work we currently have 15 MSDN Universal subscriptions for the developers and designers.  This change in Microsoft’s strategy along with other changes (Vista Licensing issues, compatibility in development tools, etc…) has us questioning if it is worth it to renew.  A number of our designers and web developers have experience in Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver and we are considering moving away from ASP.NET development and moving to Coldfusion or PHP.  I’m not sure what has happened at Microsoft but they seemed to have forgotten about the base of developers that made their initial product (i.e. Windows) so successful.  If it was not for the applications that run on Windows we would all be using Linux/Unix/OSX.  If Microsoft understood this they would be giving their development tools away. (That is based on the assumption they want developers to develop for Vista).  Microsoft needs to remember where they came from, today there are other alternatives, Microsoft is not a dominate as it once was, they have yet to realize this.

    December 13, 2006 1:36 PM
  • Dusty said:

    Expression Web and Custom Controls - Update

    December 14, 2006 10:24 AM
  • Scott Lewis said:

    Wow, a lot of comments here. One struck a nerve with me, "I guess Microsoft is tired of shelling out free stuff to developers." Since when. Visual Whatever was never free until the latest Express editions. And since when is spending two grand or so for MSDN subscription free?

    More importantly... If Microsoft is not going to provide Expression Web to MSDN subscribers then why did they tout it in the Fall MSDN events which covered:

        Visual Studio for DB professionals

        Windows Workflow Foundation

        <b>Expression Web</b>

    I learned of the Expression product line in my TechNet and MSDN newsletters. This really is a slap in the face for developers.

    December 14, 2006 8:49 PM
  • Andrew said:

    So... Microsoft comes up with a new product.  Then, quite rightly, they decide not to give it away for free.  What is the problem??  MSDN subscribers already have it far too good.  I find it so amusing how some feel it is their 'right' to get something for free, just because they get some stuff for free already.  

    If MSDN costs $2000 (a bargain for what you get) what's another measly 90 bucks?  I can't believe how wound up people get over this.  IT"S NOTHING!!  It's normal practice!  A company creates a product, they sell a product at a price comparable to the competition.  Nothing unusual here.

    December 16, 2006 6:23 AM
  • MSDN Subscriber said:

    Yes I have to agree MSDN subscriptions have become more and more worthless. Twice this year Microsoft has said there will be no shipment this month. Wow. Here in Dec/06. Microsoft said no shipment - so apparently Vista and MS Office 2007 are not important to get to developers. And Team System and the Expression Suite either. If Microsoft would actually LISTEN to their developers (see above) it's clear we expect more. We are evangelists for you. By not providing these pieces of software it simply means we don't talk about them either. How is this good for anyone involved?

    December 17, 2006 9:36 PM
  • John Wozniak said:

    Pretty silly to debate the value of all these tools that just lock you into using more MS tools.  Doesn't seem very valuable unless your aim is to give MS your money.  For most of the businesses I have worked for that use/d MS tools , they create far more problems then they solve.  Addressing specific business needs will always require more than off shelf, proprietary code, forms handlers and controls - in solving these problems the software is the LEAST important factor - if the problems/needs are not fully articulated all the fancy software in the world won't make one iota of difference.  Many companies can't even get the requirements right let alone pick software that makes the project/s easier instead of more difficult.

    I code only by hand - not because I am hardcore (though I am) but because I need to know exactly what is going with my code so that I can fix (it if need be) without having some property inspector or GUI of some kind getting in my way.

    If you don't use MS'es proprietary code and lock yourself into using just their stuff, you can always use Photoshop for your images (to slice) and your preferred text editor to code (I use Araneae if I must be on Win - like "real" web designers do!

    If your understanding of CSS is so poor that you NEED an MS tool to help you or speed you up - as much as it may hurt - you would be FAR better off buying a good CSS book from O'Reilly and getting down to business.

    So if you don't gain anything by using some software - don't.

    Since Bill gates himself seems to know less than a novice designer about web code (based on his recent interview with Molly H. -, I would not look to MS to understand anything but their internal needs and narrow views on how technology is used.

    And remember MS is no pioneer - they are an appropriator and buyer of technology - since they didn't create any of these technologies I can see why they wouldn't grasp how they are really used in the wild, as evidenced by the fact that their own tools create code that doesn't render 100% properly in their own browser? Do we need more proof of their disconnect with what is happening "on the street"?. I don't - it is old news.

    Dump MSDN and use the most powerful tool of all - your brain!

    December 18, 2006 12:45 PM
  • Duncan said:

    This is only the first product in a range, by taking web developer out of MSDN and I assume the rest of the expression suite along with it, a signal is being sent to the developers, don’t, use this new tech, we don’t want developers in the design space.

    Without the expression suite the WPF tech won’t really be available to the main stream until the next release of visual studio 2007/8 , and then only in the basic form, as most of the interesting functionality is added by the expression stuff, and has to be hand coded in VS.

    This is only going to harm the uptake of the WPF, and WPF/E, if developers can’t do the interesting stuff without paying out more money then frankly it won’t happen.  Outside of the big establishments it won’t be used.  

    Microsoft made a great leap forward creating the next generation of developers by supplying the express products, XNA studio will no doubt be a jumping stone for future games developers.  

    To remove expression suite from MSDN cripples the new technology before its had a chance to rise, I can only hope the Microsoft teams will see, that without support from the development community, and outside of Microsoft cost the overriding factor, we won’t see the upsurge of applications using this technology, and these products will spend their life as a backwater,  un-used and under developed, unavailable to developers, and untried by design studios, who already have their suite of tools, and need reasons to change.

    Microsoft wanted to break into the design space, cutting out the huge army of developers, and ignoring their influence on the design space, is not the way to do it.  

    December 20, 2006 8:20 AM
  • Adham Shaaban said:

    I think Microsoft is really shooting themselves in the foot here.  Whatever monetary gains they hope to achieve from leaving Expression Web out of MSDN, it certainly won't offset the damage they're doing to developer relations.  As Robert said in one of his comments, Microsoft is usually not in the habit of screwing developers but recently more and more of their decisions seem to be doing exactly that.  And in a time when more and more high-profile MS developers and bloggers are growing increasingly dissatisfied with MS decisions and considering alternatives, DevDiv should be working hard on enhancing rather than damaging developer relations.  As for the argument that Expression Web is strictly for "designers" and is meant for a "different" market than MSDN, I personally know MANY developers in the small to mid-size market who have to fall back on Dreamweaver and 3rd party CSS tools because of the crappy support for even the most basic design tasks in VS2005.  If MS really thinks "developers" should stick to only VS, then at the very least they should shore up its support for CSS and basic design tasks or better yet, give it the same Expression Web "high fidelity design surface" that they don't seem to mind sharing with "SharePoint Designer"!

    December 21, 2006 4:07 PM
  • Ninety Bucks said:

    Much to do about (almost) nothing

    December 21, 2006 9:17 PM
  • MSDeveloper said:

    Office is included in MSDN, so is Word more of a developer tool than Expression?

    Foolish decision, and I sincerely hope it is changed. I certainly will not be buying both MSDN and Expression.

    Somewhere, someone believes developers will buy this, and MS will make more money because of it. Let's prove wrong the boneheads at Microsoft who decided this, and not buy the product!

    December 24, 2006 8:11 PM
  • Neal Kimbro said:

    Microsoft is an admirable company with a good reputation for understanding the important role that developers (Microsoft’s greatest evangelists) play with respect to technology (and the adoption thereof).  I would urge MS to reconsider the decision not to include the Expression tools, as part of the MSDN downloads.  Developers play a vital role in determining the tools and technologies that their companies will adopt and use.   If developers don’t use it, then I suspect not many people will…

    December 26, 2006 2:32 PM
  • jazzpilot said:

    The funny thing is…

    Given Microsoft’s position that Expression Web is for Designers, including it in MSDN would not hurt EW sales (since MSDN is for Developers, not Designers).  Based on Microsoft’s logic, Developers wouldn’t purchase or use EW in production anyway.  

    On the contrary, if Developers had access to EW, and were enthusiastic about it, they would be an adjunct army of informal sales people promoting it to Microsoft’s real target audience, the Designers. Therefore including it in MSDN would only increase EW sales.

    Or, on the other hand, the Developers can approach Designers and say “we’d really like you to switch from Dreamweaver to EW; we think its better and will make our jobs easier, but we’ve never used it so we can’t be sure.”  To which the Designers would respond “and you want us to retool for what?..”

    January 3, 2007 3:37 PM
  • marcdroo said:

    Forest Key, Chris Treadaway & the rest of Microsoft:

    WAKE UP! Are you listening to this?!!!

    I think you’ll find that your assumption of roles and classifications for designer vs. developer is completely unrealistic for a good deal of small, medium and large organizations.

    I work for a large (by Canadian Standards) healthcare organization that has 10000+ employees across 3 hospitals and 9 partner healthcare facilities. Our team builds web applications that are used by thousands of people daily, across all of these sites, and guess what: we don’t have, and do pretty well without a dedicated ‘web designer’.

    Sure, our applications may not win any design awards for visual appeal; HOWEVER, we do strive to build user-friendly UI’s that are dynamic and visually appealing (if maybe a little plain) and these UI’s are definitely appreciated and adopted enthusiastically by our users.  

    I’m sure that at Microsoft, creating visual design is given top priority and as such, you can justify the expense of dedicated creative staff and purchasing a separate tool set for these. Our organization places the priority on producing new functionality for our users.

    Do the right thing and give developers access to the tools we need to do our jobs.

    January 5, 2007 9:09 AM
  • Richard said:

    Seriously, I put both apps side-by-side and Expression looks like a subset of Sharepoint Designer.  Am I wrong??  

    January 11, 2007 4:37 PM
  • Pete Wilson said:

    So, does anyone find it ironic that VS 2005 will be bundled with Expression Suite?

    January 15, 2007 11:09 AM
  • John Reilly said:

    I think this is a mistake for Microsoft.

    Expression Web looks great, but there's no way that professional designers are going to start using it over DreamWeaver.  A better strategy would be to have developers use it (because they will) and have adoption occur by the spreading number of good UI designs created by developers who have to do both jobs.


    January 15, 2007 8:23 PM
  • Roger Huston said:

    Actually, MS has to do it this way.  They can't bundle it with MSDN.

    Follow my logic:

    You see, if they bundled it with MSDN, then many tens of thousands of people would use it.

    If all these people started to use it, this would mean that many more people would be exposed to xHTML and CSS and web standards.  (After all, it is easy to develop good websites when you have good tools.)

    If we suddenly hand many more websites all with very good xHTML code more and more people would see the weakness in IE7 and how it lags far behind FireFox.  (IE can't parse xml so we have to stay with the xHTML 1.0 transitional and text/css.)

    While I am sure the MSN team would love more people to use xHTML and W3C standards as it would help them with their websites, it would leave the rest of MS out in the cold.  Afterall, there are plenty of people who still use FrontPage and Word and Excel to produce HTML and IE can read that better than it can read the code Expression Web can generate.

    You see, for the rest of us. it makes sense that in order to compete against Adobe you would want to get Expression out there into the marketplace.  MSDN is the reason MS stays ahead of the competition and is a GREAT marketing tool.  No other company can get a new product in the hands of so many people so easily.  

    But you see, if they did that, the would expose the company too much on the other fronts, namely IE.  Microsoft only like to play by its rules and follow their own standards, the rest is just lip service.

    - Roger

    January 19, 2007 7:53 PM
  • Ryan said:

    >> So, does anyone find it ironic that VS 2005 will be bundled with Expression Suite?

    To Pete Wilson:

    Yes. Very ironic. I thought Expression was for "designers". Blurry lines? Hmmm..


    In my line of business in building database web applications, if it looks crappy, who is going to buy it? With that in mind, we are all well versed in imagery and CSS standards...using Adobe products for that purpose. You see? Developers *do* design.

    I am in need of a program that will merge the development and the design together with MSFT products. And Expression Web is that piece.

    We subscribe to MSDN for the VS suite of tools. For nice design imagery, layout, and CSS, we have to manually hammer out the code for it to work with the VS code. And why do we have a MSDN subscription? For VS. Why do we buy Adobe products? For design.

    Again, Developers *do* design. This is mainly (as we see it) because "designers" will screw up our development. So we just assume the role of the designers, and push out great looking stuff.

    We were very much looking forward to MSFT's new Expression Suite in our MSDN subscription, and this news is very disappointing.

    If MSFT wants marketshare from me (and from my referrals) in the Expression products, it would be in their best interest to include it in the MSDN subscription.

    I preach this all the time: Content pushes design and design pushes development. All of the developers in my business also do and have design responsibilities *AS PART OF DEVELOPMENT*.

    The UI is just as important (if not more...look at the iPhone people...the simple, yet intuitive UI is why people buy it) as the development, and they go hand in hand and are actually done at the same time for most developers, *by* developers.

    Again, if you want me to purchase or support Expression, I would hope that MSFT would include this in MSDN; otherwise, I'll just continue with what I got. There's no way I'm paying for an MSDN subscription and MSFT expects me to fork up more money for something that I (and pretty much everyone commenting here too) strongly feel should be included in the MSDN subscription.

    My subscription is up for renewal too, and I was looking for something to convince me as to why I needed to renew it. And MSFT's decision to not include it is a big disappointment. I may just hold off on renewal until MSFT *does* listen to the developers and includes it, and then sees that this was a good move to gain marketshare and get people to use it...and preach about it.


    (you know what I'm talking about)

    I am a developer using Microsoft products, and this is my opinion.

    - Ryan

    January 20, 2007 1:30 AM
  • Scott said:

    and why does FrontPage come with an MSDN subscription?

    isn't Expression Web meant to replace FrontPage.

    i don't see the logic in Microsoft leaving Expression Studio out of the MSDN subscription except to piss off the developer community.

    - Scott

    MCSD, MCDBA, & Graphic artist

    January 21, 2007 5:20 PM
  • James said:

    I agree with you Scott.

    What gives, Microsoft?

    I work for a company that is a Microsoft Certified Partner (and get an MSDN subscription), and we all would very much like to use this in our projects.

    You should include Expression Studio in the MSDN Subscription.

    James, MCSE

    January 21, 2007 5:27 PM
  • GameBoyMist said:


    Linux software,news driver ,games


    January 25, 2007 6:57 PM
  • Well I'll come out and say what the Microsoft people hinted at but can't say.


    *it's the same product*

    *there is nothing expression web can do that Sharepoint Designer can't do*

    *there are a handfull of things (like support for Sharepoint lists, templates, etc...) that Sharepoint can do that expression web can't do*

    It's damn funny to read these comments from you guys about this precieved injustice. Ohhh my pooooorrr subscription... I'm getting screwed... I want my CSS.... wahhh wahhh wahhh...

    1. Take a deep breath.

    2. Count to 10.

    3. Download Sharepoint Designer.


    4... PROFIT!

    January 27, 2007 10:41 PM
  • May 22, 2007 5:38 PM
  • May 15, 2008 12:09 PM