When last we heard, Microsoft had paused development on Expression Graphic Designer (Acrylic) and Expression Web Designer (Quartz) was AWOL. Now, Martin LaMonica reports at CNET that Microsoft says that these two plus their sibling Expression Interactive Designer (”Sparkle”) will be available 60-90 days after Vista. That’s probably the soonest since they depend on the Windows Presentation Foundation (Avalon) display technologies which will finally be solidified with Vista. Microsoft also promises a CTP of Quartz in June.
Speaking of WPF, at last week’s Mix06 conference Microsoft unveiled Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E) which is popularly billed as a “Flash Killer.” Elizabeth Montalbano at InfoWorld:
WPF/E lets graphics created for Windows Vista applications run on other OSes as well as on the Web, said Forest Key, a director of developer tools product management for Microsoft.
Key described WPF/E as a run time for reusing rich graphic elements built specifically for a Windows Vista application. At the core of the technology is XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language), Microsoft’s language for creating graphical presentation elements in Windows Presentation Foundation, the next-generation GUI framework for Windows Vista.
WPF/E can be used in two different ways. Developers can use it to embed XAML code for graphics in an application so it can run on another platform, for example, the Macintosh, Key said. Then there are WPF/E plug-ins for browsers, which can be downloaded when a WPF/E-enabled applications pops up on the Web. The plug-ins will allow those XAML-based graphics to be rendered in various browsers, he said.
Microsoft will release the first Community Technology Preview (CTP) of WPF/E in the third quarter. In the first half of next year, it will release WPF/E plug-ins that will allow graphics built for Windows to run on browsers, including Apple Computer’s Safari, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer.
Microsoft bills WPF/E as a more flexible alternative to Adobe Systems’ Macromedia Flash, which also is both a developer technology for building multimedia content and a plug-in that can be downloaded to allow rich graphics to run on the Web.
Since Flash has a huge head start, I doubt WPF/E “kills” it any time soon. It’s just another plug-in to add to your browser.
Today marks the start of Microsoft’s Mix Conference (Mix06) in Las Vegas featuring a keynote by Bill Gates (web cast – 9AM Pacific). The focus is on Web developers to whom Microsoft will pitch its various Web development initiatives including the Atlas framework for building AJAX applications and it is expected that a “layout complete” beta version of Internet Explorer 7 will be distributed to the attendees, but won’t be made publicly available. Despite earlier hints, the attendees apparently won’t get a look at Microsoft’s Expression Web Designer (aka Quartz) which has been noticeably AWOL lately.
Dare Obasanjo points to the new adCenter blog where we find out that an updated version of the limited beta is near release. Oilman reports on a demo of the new version and has screenshots. It still looks like Microsoft is on track for a full launch of adCenter in June 2006
Meanwhile, on the contextual Internet advertising front, Nathan Weinberg points out a post at Jensense where Jennifer Slegg reveals what she found while reading the session descriptions for the upcoming Microsoft Mix06 conference where she is to be a speaker:
MSN ContentAds is their contextual advertising program name and a launch date will be sometime in 2006.
While it is extremely likely ContentAds will only be in beta for a soft launch in 2006, similar to AdCenter starting off with a small beta, the fact that MSN is planning their program to launch relatively soon in the contextual advertising timeline is very good news to hear. With YPN taking over two years to launch after the introduction of Google AdSense, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see MSN not offer their own contextual program until 2007 or 2008.
The greater the delay, the bigger Google’s lead gets.
Darryl K. Taft at eWeek:
IBM and a group of industry leaders on Feb. 1 announced an open-source initiative to promote the adoption of AJAX technology.
AJAX is a (web) client technology that enriches the user experience for shopping, working, planning, corresponding and navigating online. AJAX makes updated information available automatically without refreshing the browser, among other benefits.
Notice the presence of Google and Yahoo on the list and not surprisingly, given the open source basis, the absence of Microsoft. SYS-CON Belgium has much more including an interview with IBM’s CTO for Emerging Internet Technologies, David Boloker.
Microsoft announced it own AJAX tooling, codenamed Atlas, at PDC05 and will be featuring it at the March Mix06 conference.