Microsoft Expression Studio 4 Ultimate review
With the future of computing looking to lie with multiple platforms and multiple devices, Microsoft needs to be able to compete in this rich internet-orientated space. That’s where its two new Expression Studio releases come in.
Expression Studio 4 Web Professional
Microsoft’s latest page-authoring application is Expression Web 4. With features such as advanced standards-compliant handling of HTML/XHTML, CSS, PHP and ASP.NET Ajax, Expression Web is in a different league to Microsoft’s previous solution, FrontPage. However, with only two new features of note – a built-in SEO checker and remote previewing of how the Mac version of Safari renders pages – it falls still further behind the market leader, Adobe Dreamweaver.
Page-based web publishing is mainly focused on text, but media handling is also important. To create and export web-optimised bitmap and vector graphics, Expression Studio 4 Web Professional includes Expression Design 4. This also features just two changes of note: support for WMF/EMF import and the ability to save and load your own workspace setups.
To manage web video, Expression Studio 4 Web Professional (£101 exc VAT) includes the free Expression Encoder 4, which lets you transcode footage or prepare a full Silverlight experience, complete with player. If video is central to your work you may want to upgrade to Expression Encoder 4 Pro (£135 exc VAT), which offers a wider range of both inputs, including MPEG2 and AVCHD, and outputs such as enhanced H.264 and IIS Live Smooth Streaming. It also supports DRM through Microsoft’s PlayReady technology.
Expression Studio 4 Ultimate
The second of Microsoft’s Expression suites, Studio 4 Ultimate, is far more impressive, building on the Web Professional apps with its inclusion of Encoder 4 Pro and Expression Blend 4.
Expression Blend can create rich user interfaces and experiences using XAML (eXtensible Application Markup Language). XAML is intimately connected to Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), meaning Blend can create rich front-ends for Visual Studio-developed Windows EXEs using any .NET language. With Blend 4 the integration goes deeper than ever with full support for VS 2010, WPF 4 and .NET 4.
|Software subcategory||Web development|
Operating system support
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||yes|