Today, Microsoft announced that it has sold Expression Media (a member of its Expression Studio family of Web tools) to Phase One, a Danish company that bills themselves as "the world’s leader in open-platform based medium format camera systems and solutions."
Microsoft Corp. and Phase One A/S, a leader in digital photography, are announcing that Phase One acquired the Microsoft Expression Media product. This agreement is built on an existing strategic alliance between the companies forged in 2007 to improve digital imaging solutions for professional and enthusiast photographers.
Expression Media is a leading digital asset management application used to catalog and organize photos, video and music for effortless retrieval, presentation and sharing. Expression Media will join Phase One’s product lineup, which includes open-platform-based, medium-format camera systems able to render up to 60.5 megapixel resolution, and Capture One raw-conversion and image-editing software, which supports more than 170 different file formats and provides superior image quality with excellent color and detail. Phase One products are used by some of the world’s leading photographers.
Under the terms of the agreement, Phase One takes full ownership of the Expression Media product. To ensure a smooth transition for Expression Media customers, Microsoft will continue to provide support to retail customers for 90 days. Phase One will begin offering support for the Expression Media product after the 90-day transition period. Microsoft customers who are currently using Expression Media under an Enterprise Agreement will continue to receive support from Microsoft through the term of their agreements. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Expression Media was formerly iViewe MediaPro which Microsoft obtained when it acquired iView Multimedia in 2006. Chalk this one up as another acquisition that did not pan out for Microsoft. I expect that multimedia asset management was rather too specialized a niche for Microsoft’s developer customers – even the "creative professionals" that the Expression Studio family targets.
Microsoft has released Silverlight 3, the latest version of their rich media application platform which rivals Adobe Flash. In addition, a release candidate of Expression Blend 3, the Silverlight development tooling, has also been released with a promise of the full Expression 3 family of Web development products shipping within 30 days.
You can hit the websites for Silverlight or the Expression family or the combination for much more detail, but Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie offers a succinct summary of what is new. My choices for the high points:
Silverlight 3 enables applications to run outside the browser and taken offline. Users can safely install web applications on their computers, and create persistent shortcuts to them on the desktop, start menu and taskbar (this is supported on both Windows and the Mac).
Silverlight 3 now supports hardware graphics acceleration and HD video. IIS Media Services is a free server product that complements Silverlight and provides the ability to efficiently stream media over HTTP. It enables both on-demand and live HD video to be delivered using “smooth streaming” – which is an adaptive streaming algorithm that can deliver video at bitrates optimized for a client’s network conditions and CPU capabilities.
Free download that enables Silverlight 3 development support for VS 2008 and the free Visual Web Developer 2008 Express.
The latter has the potential to really explode Silverlight adoption by placing the bar to entry very low. On the other hand, I found the IIS Media Services demo to be anything but smooth streaming.
Finally, per Scott Guthrie, "Expression Studio 3 will be included as part of the MSDN Premium and higher subscriptions (meaning MSDN Premium customers don’t have to pay anything extra to get all of the Expression Studio products). " This apparently ends the furor over whether developers with MSDN subscriptions should get access to "designer" tools as part of the subscription.
Overshadowed by the Microsoft Yahoo takeover soap opera last week, Microsoft released version 2 of its Expression Studio collection of Web tools:
Expression Encoder is new in version 2 of the Studio and among other new features, Silverlight support was added to all of the tools, and PHP and ASP.NET 3.5 support was added to Expression Web. The PHP support reflects broader aspirations than just covering the needs of captive Microsoft technology developers but it will be difficult to break the grip that Adobe Dreamweaver has on that market.
Less desirable is the perpetuation of the wacky dichotomy between Microsoft developer tools (Visual Studio) and design tools (Expression). Developers who subscribe to the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) have been promised only a subset of the Expression tools and they will have to either ante up for a standalone copy or buy an Express Professional Subscription (which partially overlaps the MSDN subscription) to get the full set.
You may recall the furor (, ) over Microsoft’s decision not to make the new Expression family of design tools available to members of the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) based on the not always obvious distinction between “designers” and “developers.” Today, S. Somasegar (Microsoft Developer Division Corporate VP) revealed that Microsoft has taken the adverse reaction to heart and that some of the Expression tools will now be made available to some MSDN subscribers:
Based on this feedback, I am pleased to say that we will be making Expression Web available starting today to all MSDN Premium subscribers. We will also make Expression Blend available to MSDN Premium subscribers shortly after the Expression Studio release later in Q2 2007. Expression Blend and Expression Web are intended to help creative professionals collaborate with developers to create rich user experiences for the Web, Windows Vista applications and beyond, which means we need to make sure both tools are readily available to our developer community.
The decision extends to all MSDN Premium subscribers, including those with Visual Studio Professional and Visual Studio Team Edition’s. For customers that have premium subscriptions to Visual Studio Team Suite, we will be making the entire Expression Studio available to them.
You may be asking, what about Expression Design and Expression Media? Expression Blend and Expression Web are both designed to help creative professionals and developers work together to create rich user experiences for the Web, Windows Vista applications and beyond. As Expression Design and Expression Media are not directly intended for application development, we feel they fall outside the current scope of MSDN Subscriptions. We will be watching usage and collecting feedback of these expression products to help make further decisions in the future.
If it’s not entirely clear which level of MSDN subscription gets what, Joe Wilcox provides a nice chart.