About-face: Microsoft to make Expression Web, Blend available on MSDN

Microsoft has done an about-face. The company has decided to make its Expression Web tool available starting on April 3 as part of the company's MSDN Premium subscription and will add Expression Blend to the MSDN Premium check-list once that product becomes available (expected in a couple of weeks).

Are developers designers? Are designers developers? And who is Microsoft (or any software vendor) to decide?

After getting an earful from the Microsoft programming community over its decision not to make its Expression tools available to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers, Microsoft has done an about-face. The company is making Expression Web available starting on April 3 as part of the company's MSDN Premium subscription and will add Expression Blend to the MSDN Premium check-list once that product becomes available (expected in a couple of weeks).

Microsoft isn't planning to make Expression Design or Expression Media available as part of MSDN, however, company officials said.

"This is not a change in who these products are for," said Forest Key, director of product management for Microsoft's design tools. "It's ore about giving developers access to the tools" in case they want to see how they work and how they will dovetail with Visual Studio.

Robert McLaws, president of Interscape Technologies, was one of the first to draw attention publicly to Microsoft's original decision to bar Expression Web from MSDN.

"Whether Microsoft likes it or not, the unfortunate reality is that developers often have to be designers too. And now the 'Jack of all tradesmen' can have the right tools for the job," McLaws posted on April 3.

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