Microsoft Relents! Expression Products come to MSDN

by Don Burnett

Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the water, Microsoft has relented and given Expression out to MSDN subscribers. Personally I was hoping the product would stay within the design community but I understand Microsoft’s need for it’s development community to understand the products better and embrace them as part of their workflow environment. It will enhance Microsoft’s acceptance of these tools.

This reminds me of the days when Microsoft had “SiteBuilders” and special tools for web designers, later we were forced to meld with MSDN..We were all disappointed when those little site builder level logos ended up meaning nothing after we had to earn them.  

I really hope this all doesn’t mean that Microsoft is giving up on keeping their  “Design Division” a separate entity because the changes we have seen signal a very different path for Microsoft that everyone has been very approving of. I hope this doesn’t signal a return to “past” ways of working.

Either way this is a good deal for developers, though I for one think they should have had to pay for these just like the designers who don’t code do as well. I know that’s not very friendly of me, but I think Expression Studio means long term enhanced revenue for Microsoft and I think MSDN folks should have to pay for these tools just as they would if they bought the Adobe Studio product. I would also note that Expression Design wasn’t announced as part of the MSDN bundling.

If you want to read the official announcement it can be found at..

Expression comes to MSDN

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2 Comments on “Microsoft Relents! Expression Products come to MSDN”

  1. Marlon Smith Says:

    Come on man, I wanna design too! Developers like good looking apps too!

    No really I understand your point, but I think this is a good opp. for MS devs to move beyond battleship grey winforms. Most of our dev shops don’t have or will not budget for designers, so I hope MS is planning a lot of dev ed. about design basics and principles, imagine the horrific WPF hardcore c++ dev apps, yuck! 😉

  2. Don Burnett Says:

    Marlon I actually agree with you, the developers need to start embracing design too. Giving them the tools is a very good idea to start the process moving.

    When you mention: “Most of our dev shops don’t have or will not budget for designers, so I hope MS is planning a lot of dev ed. ”

    You make a very good point in that they don’t and they should and one of the things the developer shops will need to do is start making room for the designers and hire them and pay them. Programmers in general do not make good designers because it’s a totally different methodology of thinking.

    Art folk (designers) don’t even think like programmers and it’s a very different mindset and you can’t usually get there from here. In my over 20 years I have only seen a very few people (less than 10) who could do both well.

    That’s been the problem all along with Windows applications, there hasn’t been room for the designer, but if you look at Adobe and Apple this isn’t the case at all. Their products looks and works so much better because they thought about design first and foremost and programmed around the designer’s work.

    Microsoft needs to hammer this point home to their developers. My suspect feeling is about two years from now when all the developers who are trying to be designers release applications that look and work like randsom notes (remember when typefaces/fonts were new on the mac?) then the development houses will see the need for the designer and start embracing them and hiring them.

    That’s why the people best poised to take advantage of creating new Windows applications with WPF are the design firms (like IdentityMine,, and others) because they know this..

    Sure I am not saying knowing a little WPF won’t help you look better with your apps. Microsoft has raised the bar. But designs for applications like you see on the pages of these design firms is a completely different process than you go through for design, interaction and UI design.

    You will have to go through and learn that process, and if you don’t have the “designer mindset” you won’t be as successful and your application will suffer. I am really hoping that Microsoft starts seeing that a good MSDN coding demo isn’t the same kinda of presentation that is needed for the design community to embrace the product. See this article if you think it is:

    The same goes for a developer trying to be a designer.. It’s all about focus… You really can do one or the other and developers probably should open themselves to a designer deciding what your app should look and work like.

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