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.