To cross-pollinate the markets for design and development software, Microsoft has decided to release its new Expression Web and Blend applications to MSDN Premium subscribers at no extra charge.
Expression Web will become available today to subscribers, and Blend will be posted soon after its official release later this quarter, Developer Division head S. "Soma" Somasegar said Tuesday in a blog post announcing the news.
The decision drew an immediate round of cheers from developers eager to take advantage of the Expression applications, which Microsoft is targeting at Web developers and designers.
"It really bugged me as a MSDN subscriber that the Expression tools were not available to me," one developer posted in a comment. "Having spent what I do on my subscription, I could not justify to my boss additional costs for the Expression tools."
Feedback like that drove Microsoft's decision, according to Somasegar.
"Following the announcement [of Expression Studio's imminent release], we received a lot of questions about why we did not include some of these products, particularly Expression Web, within customers' MSDN subscriptions. In hearing this feedback, my team started looking into the matter in more detail, and we talked to customers about how they are planning to use these products," Somasegar wrote.
Those conversations convinced Microsoft that developers and designers need access to the same tools, he said.
"Even if you might not be using the Expression tools primarily, having a wider understanding of how they work and the information they produce will ensure greater communication and quality between design and development," he wrote. "I want to thank everyone for taking the time to provide feedback to my team and helping us drive to this decision. Listening to our community is one of the key drivers for my team, and I assure you that every voice can make a difference."
In December, Microsoft shipped Expression Web, the first product in a new suite aimed at expanding Microsoft's share of a Web development tools market dominated by Adobe. The rest of the suite, slated to ship soon, will be on display at its upcoming Mix conference at the end of the month.
Microsoft will be opening access to two of Expression Studio's four applications, Expression Web for creating Web sites and Blend for linking Web applications to Windows. For now, it's not planning a release to MSDN of the suite's other two applications, Expression Design for illustration and Media for digital asset management.
"We feel they fall outside the current scope of MSDN Subscriptions," Somasegar wrote in his blog entry. "We will be watching usage and collecting feedback of these Expression products to help make further decisions in the future."