Microsoft sets out latest tools for web developers

Microsoft sets out latest tools for web developers

Summary: Microsoft has used its MIX08 event in Las Vegas to announce beta releases of web tools including Internet Explorer 8, Silverlight 2 and Expression Studio 2 products

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TOPICS: Apps
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Microsoft has this week used its MIX08 event in Las Vegas to announce beta releases of web tools including Internet Explorer 8, Silverlight 2 and Expression Studio 2 products. 

Along with IE8, the new versions of Silverlight and Expression Studio are targeted at web professionals at a time when the company is making a direct series of moves to align itself more closely within the rich internet application space.

Coming soon after the company's recent acquisition bid for Yahoo, Microsoft says these product enhancements will bridge the developer-to-designer workflow gap and help to build more interactive applications for the desktop, the web and mobile devices.

"The web is at the centre of everything Microsoft is doing," said Ray Ozzie, Microsoft's chief software architect. "The investments we're making will enable developers and designers to deliver a range of connected experiences across the continuum of web applications, rich clients and other devices."

Internet Explorer 8's new features include the Activities and WebSlices tools for developers to introduce news ways for users to stay connected to the content and services of their choice. Developers and other users can download Internet Explorer 8 in beta 1 format from the web.

Newly enhanced with a software development kit for in-stream advertising, Microsoft's Silverlight 2 programming model is designed for developing and distributing rich internet applications that use graphics, animations or video within the .Net framework. Microsoft says that providing the tools to deploy and accurately track advertising will be key to making rich internet applications commercially viable.

The web is at the centre of everything Microsoft is doing

Ray Ozzie, Microsoft

"With Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari out there, we really don't need another web browser these days," said Keith Smith, director of product management for Microsoft's developer tools division.."What we need to do is to focus on the 'scenario' that users are in when they connect with their applications. If they're playing with an online music application, they need to be able to unplug and be mobile. Browser-based applications, supported by effective advertising that can be taken offline and work with local device processing power, represent the way ahead."

Also announced at MIX08 was the beta of Microsoft's graphics and media design toolkit Expression Studio 2. Supported by the Visual Studio integrated development environment, the new product now supports the HTML embedded scripting language PHP and also features a preview version of the Expression Blend website animation tool.

"As we provide animation tools to bring static pages to life, there's always a danger of over-use in the same way we saw with Flash during its early days," said Microsoft's Smith. "But given time, I'm sure best practices will develop and, if there is a little too much animation to begin with, then maybe that's just part and parcel of the creative process as we get used to seeing more engaging web pages." 

Expression Studio 2 and Silverlight 2 are available as free trial versions from the Microsoft Expression website along with a collection of community resources including forums, blogs and news.

Topic: Apps

Adrian Bridgwater

About Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater a freelance journalist specialising in cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects of software engineering and project management.

Adrian is a regular blogger with ZDNet.co.uk covering the application development landscape and the movers, shakers and start-ups that make the industry the vibrant place that it is.

His journalistic creed is to bring forward-thinking, impartial, technology editorial to a professional (and hobbyist) software audience around the world. His mission is to objectively inform, educate and challenge - and through this champion better coding capabilities and ultimately better software engineering.

Adrian has worked as a freelance technology journalist and public relations consultant for over fifteen years. His work has been published in various international publications including the Wall Street Journal, CNET.com, The Register, ComputerWeekly.com, BBC World Service magazines, Web Designer magazine, Silicon.com, the UAE’s Khaleej Times & ITP.net and SYS-CON’s Web Developer’s Journal. He has worked as technology editor for international travel & retail magazines and also produced annual technology industry review features for UK-based publishers ISC. Additionally, he has worked as a telecoms industry analyst for Business Monitor International.

In previous commercially focused roles, Adrian directed publicity work for clients including IBM, Microsoft, Compaq, Intel, Motorola, Computer Associates, Ascom, Infonet and RIM. Adrian has also conducted media training and consultancy programmes for companies including Sony-Ericsson, IBM, RIM and Kingston Technology.

He is also a published travel writer and has lived and worked abroad for 10 years in Tanzania, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Italy and the United States.

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2 comments
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  • I'd have changed the title...

    so it ended... latest tools for web developers for Windows.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that there's no real intent from Microsoft to allow people to develop for the Web, as opposed to just Windows clients/servers.
    ego.sum.stig
  • Return of the "Monkey Boy"

    Using the Ballmer "crazy dance-o-meter", it looks like you have a point. Here's Ballmer cutting a rug for developers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvsboPUjrGc
    and here he is reprising his dance at Mix 08 for web developers: http://www.news.com/1606-2-6233485.html. Is it me, or is his recent performance a bit more lacklustre?
    Karen Friar