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Microsoft Kills Expression Suite — And Makes It Free, For Now 89

mikejuk writes "Microsoft has announced that the Expression suite of design tools is no more. It has been removed from sale immediately and it has been placed on a maintenance only status until it reaches its end of life. Expression was Microsoft's offering for designers and competed directly with Adobe products. You can now download the components of Expression — Design 4, Web 4 and Encoder 4 — for free but you can't buy them. Of course, knowing that you are using 'doomed' products, even for free, takes some of the icing off the cake. The central component of the suite the UI designer Blend is to be integrated with Visual Studio 2012 probably along with Update 2. It looks as if Microsoft is giving up on trying to get designers to use its tools."
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Microsoft Kills Expression Suite — And Makes It Free, For Now

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  • Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 22, 2012 @06:55AM (#42368117)

    They should just open source it

    • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kthreadd ( 1558445 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @07:29AM (#42368215)

      They should just open source it

      Possibly. They open sourced their F# compiler. It's not too uncommon for them.

    • by jopsen ( 885607 )

      They should just open source it

      And you would be bitching about how companies just dumps products as open source and expect the community to fix it...

      The code is probably useless anyway... :)

      • You don't need to "expect the community to fix it." Just make the source code available.

        The bigger problem is the potential for legal/PR problems. Before Microsoft open sourced something like this, I'd expect they'd want to go through the code and comments making sure there's nothing problematic.

      • Better than killing a product and keeping the source private. At least by open sourcing, they allow users who are dedicated to it (either emotionally or for real technical reasons) to keep it going themselves, and perhaps even improve on it. Which is sort of the point of FOSS in the first place, right?

    • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Informative)

      by Eirenarch ( 1099517 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @10:27AM (#42368861)

      /. makes this sound like a bad news but the devs who used expression (including the team I work on) view this as really positive move. While Expression Blend/Web/etc. was not a bad product everyone was frustrated that they needed to switch between Expression Whatever and Visual Studio. Everyone just wished features were part of VS as they are supposed to be now. This is not abandoning the tools this is improving the tools. Also this would never meant to compete with Adobe. Expression were tools to create UI for MS dev tools (XAML and Web) and did not include anything like Photoshop. Saying that Expression aimed to compete with Adobe is plain wrong.

      • I agree completely with you. I understand Microsoft's desire was that designers could use blend and developers could use VS to get things done, but most developers end up using blend more than the designers to tweak things or to develop interfaces when the designers just give them a photoshop rendering to use as a basis. And in the cases of small companies the developer is the designer, developer, tester and deployer, so they end up having to switch between all sorts of tools.

      • As a web developer I use VS predominately, but also Expression Web to prototype tricky HTML/CSS features, because it's WYSIWIG and HTML/CSS is so good. However, the process was always slowed by switching between the two tools, so I also see this progress, ie. incorporating ExpWeb into VS.
  • Viva la Blend (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 22, 2012 @06:57AM (#42368121)

    It's a shame.

    But Blend is the secret-ish weapon. However anyone who's used Blend extensively for WP and Win8 dev on large projects, while it has it's short comings, it rocks. We're seeing our WP and Win8 projects delivered considerably cheaper than our other platforms, prototype designs built as apps, not on paper, allowing us to prototype during the design phase.

  • Did n't even know (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PCK ( 4192 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @06:57AM (#42368123) Homepage

    that Microsoft even had a design suite. I guess that shows how successful it was.

    • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @07:12AM (#42368169)
      Indeed. Please tell me all tools of which you are aware. All tools not on your list will be unsuccessful. Your lack of knowledge will determine the fate of untold hundreds of tools!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by PCK ( 4192 )

        I use Visual Studio and never heard of it before today yet apparently I should have because it is now being integrated in to a product that I use on a daily basis.

        • I have only used Blend for XAML design, but it's leaps and bound better than the editor built in to visual studio. However, when using it I always question why VS couldn't also have these features. I think this is a good move for MS because: 1.) As a developer also creating the UI I would have to switch between application to do code and UI work. 2) Any shop that is would have a need for Blend probably already has Visual Studio.
        • Expression Web is a Dreamweaver knockoff.
          Expression Blend is a XAML UI designer for WPF/Silverlight
          Expression Design is for vector (and raster) design
          Expression Encoder is a screen recorder and modest editor

          The suites have been part of the BizSpark and DreamSpark programs for a while now.

      • Like the GP, I work in a Microsoft shop now. This agency even runs Windows for SERVERS. We have dozens of copies of Visual Studio. Yet, every desktop in my department has the $2,600 Adobe collection. The fact that we've never heard of Microsoft's alternative to Adobe is a giant fail by Microsoft. It's a fail by Microsoft marketing that they've never gotten word out about the product's existence. It's also a fail of the software that it's not good enough to get even a passing mention in industry press, we
        • It is far fetched to say it is alternative to Adobe. For starters it does not provide an alternative to Photoshop. If you don't provide an alternative to Photoshop how can you provide alternative to Adobe CS? Expression has always been a tool for designing UIs for dev platforms MS supports (i.e. XAML and Web). It was never meant to compete with Adobe head to head. Expression was supposed to be the tool designers would use when working on a project with developers who use MS tools. It ended up being somethin

      • If a potential customer does n't even know that the product exists, especially one who uses their other development tools thats a big massive fail in my book.

        • by ranton ( 36917 )

          While I agree that Microsoft did a very poor job of marketing Expression, a single customer not knowing about the product means nothing (which I think was the point of the parent poster).

          If you have worked as a developer in any environment released in the last 5 years, you should definitely know what Expression Studio is. If you work in Visual Studio at all, you should know what Expression Studio. Not knowing this tells far more about a developer's ability to stay knowledgeable about his chosen technology

          • I think that is unfair because Visual Studio can be used for a lot of different things. Why would anyone using VS to develop Windows Apps for example need to have knowledge of Expression Studio?

        • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

          This is like saying OneNote is a massive failure because somebody who uses Excel doesn't know about it.

      • Indeed. Please tell me all tools of which you are aware. All tools not on your list will be unsuccessful. Your lack of knowledge will determine the fate of untold hundreds of tools!

        If Microsoft design suite is unknown to 4 digit slashdotters, it is doomed indeed. So even if you had intended it to be a snark, it turned out to be insightful.

    • Re:Did n't even know (Score:5, Informative)

      by cdrnet ( 1582149 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @07:15AM (#42368181)

      It was about "design" as in "interactive user interface design", not as in Illustrator, Inkscape, Photoshop etc.

      • by PCK ( 4192 )

        I get that my point is, I'm aware of flash, dreamweaver, etc even though I don't use them yet I've never heard of this product.

        • they used it, among other things, to replace frontpage.

          that, I'm pretty sure you've heard of...

          and it makes better sense now too that you hadn't, eh?

      • It was about "design" as in "interactive user interface design", not as in Illustrator, Inkscape, Photoshop etc.

        Expression Web is a web design tool along the lines of Dreamweaver. It was the successor to Microsoft's FrontPage (actually it looked to me as if it was just FrontPage rebranded).

        Most of this Expression suite was intended as general design software - the UI bits were just a subset.

    • that Microsoft even had a design suite. I guess that shows how successful it was.

      That is because Slashdot usually does not cover launches of MS products, but makes a big deal of it when they're EOL'ed. If you get your news from sites like Slashdot, you automatically become ignorant like if you solely watch Fox News or even MSNBC.

      Also look at the submitter's submitted stories. []

      Hundreds of stories linking to

      This is nothing but pure blogspam.

    • that's becuase it isn't a design suite really. Its a developer tool that they thought - either through greed or naievety - that they could sell twice.

      Once upon a time, all the developer tooling was inside visual Studio, so a dev could knock up a GUI and hook it into the code he'd written. Then Microsoft invented XAML and next thing you know visual studio's XAML editing capabilities were extremely poor (ie often would crash if you tried to do anything remotely complicated, couldn't review what the GUI looke

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      No, it is an indication of what kind of developer you are.
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @07:08AM (#42368153)

    Microsoft Kills Expression Suite â" And Makes It Free, For Now

    This is what will happen next:

    Like earlier versions of MS Office, in the days when WordPerfect was king, Microsoft made these versions free.

    Guess what! It worked.

    There are free alternatives and better paid-for ones, but they're all grassing for attention.

    We now have a situation whereby professional desktop document editing has become synonymous with MS Office.

    A true, tried and proven modus operandi.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Much more likely it will go the way of Truespace, available for download until suddenly gone without a trace.

      • by gagol ( 583737 )
        Good ole memories, Truespace was embarrassingly easy for a 3D editor. I used it extensively in display design and prototypes.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The rub therein lies in that few professional designers use Windows to start with, and that the growing population of iPad users is learning to do this stuff on tablets.

    • Bullshit. MS killed this product because everyone hated switching from Expression to VS and back. People just wanted the Expression features in VS. This is great news for everyone who ever used Expression. Also note that MS cannot just drop the features. After all there should be some way to develop pretty UI interfaces on MS platforms.

      • Not quite. Software developers hated switching back and forth yes, but the suite wasn't originally nor primarily for software developers. It was for UX engineers/graphic artists. That was the part that failed to catch hold. In large part I think due to the MS' inability to abstract away enough of the technical complexities of the underlying technology. Now, having given up on the UX crowd I fear they're going to cheapen the tool with the VS roll up.
  • by grungeman ( 590547 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @07:27AM (#42368207)
    When applying a gradient fill to an object it was not possible to adjust a gradient after applying. As a professional graphics designer I can say that a gradient never looks perfect the first time and always needs adjustment. Instead with Expression Design you had to apply the whole gradient again, hoping that this time it would look perfect (which never happened). This made the whole software the least productive tool ever for our job. We really tried, but Expression was simply unusable for us, I even suspect that the totally useless gradient tool is the reason why Microsoft developers decided to make the Windows 8 icons monochrome.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not only that, but it was also very easy to add effects like a gradient which when used in the application could use huge amounts of cpu time whenever an update required a refresh. Then you have to recreate the effect using a pixel shader in Visual Studio in order to get your performance back.

      We also had various cases where the project could not be opened in Blend and worked with unless the current project settings were exactly right and the code behind it was perfect as well. That made handing off the proj

  • Badly named suite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xoc-S ( 645831 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @07:28AM (#42368213)
    This was a failure in marketing, not technology. When this came out, it took me a while to differentiate the products because of the first word in the name being the same. I finally figured out to just drop the word "Expression" and concentrate on the second word. I think it was a huge mistake trying to use the term to group a disparate set of products. They should have called them Microsoft Design, Microsoft Blend, etc. and then packaged them as "Microsoft Designer Suite". Blend is actually pretty cool.
    • It completely was a failure in marketing. When it got out I thought it was a Microsoft Spirograph, I remember it showed symmetry copy pasting features but that's it. I'm downloading the designer version anyways but I still doubt it's a Photoshop or The Gimp-like
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jkrise ( 535370 )

      They should have called them Microsoft Design, Microsoft Blend, etc

      I call bullshit. It doesn't matter what Microsoft called it. Obviously after the success of eXPerience, they felt eXPression would be as successful as Windows XP. Vista was a good name, and many successful non-operating systems are branded by that name and do well. But in Microsoft's case, a more apt name would've been Shit-sta.

      The newest OSes are named 7 and 8 - totally un-imaginative names. While 7 has got a 'harmless' reputation, slowl

      • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Saturday December 22, 2012 @11:06AM (#42369055) Homepage

        Names or brands mean very little in the eventual success and adoption of a product. What matters more is performance, quality and reputation.

        My turn to call bullshit. Good branding can't make a terrible product into a highly successful one, but terrible branding and marketing can keep a good product from being recognized as such. If you make a great tool but nobody knows about it, it won't sell. If people are aware of it, but they can't figure out what the product is supposed to be, they won't buy it. If people don't believe that the tool works well, they often won't give it a chance.

        And Microsoft's marketing isn't great. They tend to go through periods where they reuse the same name for disparate products and services. How many different things have been labelled ".Net" over the years? How many different products have had the "Live" moniker applied to them? There have been a couple very different products called "Surface". And look how inconsistent their product names are: 3, 95, 4, 98, 2000, XP, Vista, 7. And Windows 7 isn't even version 7, it's officially v6.1!

        Now I briefly used the Expression Suite a few years ago, and I can't tell you what any of these products are. Blend? No clue. Is that the one that was trying to be like Photoshop? And what market were they going after? Business? Consumer? Design? I have no idea. I thought it had been discontinued years ago, since I haven't heard anything about it.

  • by thoughtspace ( 1444717 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @08:03AM (#42368333)

    Used Expression suite to make a custom embedded system on a pretty large project. It was good to integrate photoshop files from the graphic designers and convert them to controls. The UI turns out looking really professional - none of those stock standard UI controls and all beautifully rendered.

    The main problem with the suite was that, in practice, the design flow is really one-way. If there was a change to the UI, you pretty much had to re-import the graphics, re-select the graphic items and group them into controls again.

    For the next product iteration, we went back to WPF mixed with Windows Forms for old or 3rd party controls.

  • by qzzpjs ( 1224510 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @08:55AM (#42368453)

    Creating fancy or professional graphical interfaces doesn't fit in with Microsoft's new future of big square blocks for everything.

  • by calyphus ( 646665 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @09:12AM (#42368507) Journal
    The original Expression app that MS bought years ago was a great start on a different style of drawing/painting app. The vectored brush shapes were innovative. MS bought it, gave it away for awhile, and that was the last I heard of it. MS really doesn't have any credibility with designers.
    • Source? Wikipedia has nothing to say about this and it would be very strange if MS bought a tool from another company to be used with the language they just created (XAML).

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Saturday December 22, 2012 @10:01AM (#42368721) Journal
    The real reason this is news is because it means some day, when Microsoft kills the now-free product, Slashdot can publish the headline "Microsoft Finally Kills Free Expression" without being a troll or libelous.
    • Also it is interesting how /. gives negative spin on this move that is considered positive by devs who use the tools. We're doing XAML development and using Blend and our team was quite happy to hear the news. None of us ever liked that Blend (or Expression Web for that matter) features were separate from VS UI designer.

  • It's because of this motto that Windows is perceived as a developer's platform.

    On the opposite, Apple is perceived as a designer's platform, because all the focus is done on the design.

  • Microsoft seems to have this habit of competing with professional products by releasing half-assed products of their own. A guy I'm doing web design for swears by Expression, simply because how seamless it was to edit his site. Click save and it quickly uploads changes, much faster than my preferred Dreamweaver. However, Expression sucks balls from a professional point of view.
  • Took a quick look at the product requirements only to find: .NET Framework 4.0
    Silverlight 4.0
    Support for Microsoft DirectX® 9.0 graphics with Windows Vista Display Driver Model (WDDM) Driver, 128 MB of graphics RAM or more, Pixel Shader 3.0 in hardware, 32-bits per pixel

    Now we know why it failed. No support for OS X? Leading designers in this area swear by OS X. And why (the hell) do you design a software which is dependent on .NET instead of C++ or ... Wait a minute, I seem to remember something about

  • > "Of course, knowing that you are using 'doomed' products, even
    > for free, takes some of the icing off the cake."

    I feel that way about Social Security! []

  • Does this mean that the Windows Media format is finally going to die? I haven't used Encoder in years, and last time I went to go download it, it seemed like it was part of Expressions, so I gave up on the format.

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