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In line with their effort to update their popular FrontPage software, Microsoft Malaysia recently announced the launch of Microsoft Expression Web, a design tool which is said to empower professional designers to build richer, standards-based sites without complicated coding.

Expression Web will be the first product line to be made available from Microsoft’s new brand – the Expression Studio suite.

Expression Web will provide greater support for web standards (such as XML, CSS, ASP.NET and XHTML), which is aimed at easing designer and developer collaboration.

With designers more integrated into the application development lifecycle, it will elevate their role as they would be delivering compelling, highly engaging and usable experiences.

Expression Web is developed with a user interface design language known as XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language), which can also be used with Visual Studio.

Like FrontPage, the tools will have an interface that is very similar to that of Microsoft Office, which will ease the transition for new users to the software.

However, the new software adds more features that make it more useful.

“The cornerstone of Expression Web is all about empowering people,” said Microsoft Malaysia product solutions marketing manager Tang Siak Kwan.

“Businesses are becoming more complex, but at the end of the day it is about equipping your people with the right digital tools that will empower them to drive your business forward.”

With frontpage gets Expression Web, for example, a picture gallery of 60 images which in .

jpeg would occupy almost 10MB can be easily put on the Web (in . png format) with a footprint size of only 20KB – a very substantial result.

“The key feature about Expression Web is the deep support it provides for standards – something that the web design community regards more important today than ever before,” XIMnet (M) Sdn Bhd chief alchemist Wiley Chin.

XIMnet is one of Microsoft’s Expression Web early adopter partners.

“Browsers today read according to standards, and search-engines rank websites higher if they’re standardsbased”, he said, adding that the sophisticated CSS management and formatting will let designers work in a drag-and-drop environment, reducing the time it takes to perform complication coding processes.

Expression Web is now available for purchase, at US$299 (RM1,100).

Qualifying FrontPage users may upgrade to Expression Web for US$99 (RM350).

Web designers can try out the product for free, by downloading the full-version 60-day trial from http://www.microsoft. com/expression.

The entire Microsoft Expression Studio suite comprises of Expression Design (a graphics tool), Expression Blend (an interactive design tool) and Expression Media (a tool for digital asset management, video encoding and publishing).

The complete suite is expected to be available in the second quarter of this year.