The company's group product manager for its developer division, Forest Key, told ZDNet Australia  Acrylic was "clearly a complementary tool to other products currently in use". A beta of Acrylic -- based on the Expression tool Microsoft acquired with its 2003 purchase of Hong Kong-based Creature House -- was released for testing early in June.
"Acrylic is a highly specialised design tool focused on one aspect of professional designers' workflow; it is common for designers to use multiple tools on projects," Key said.
The executive said Acrylic's advantages over existing suites were in the areas of artistic illustration and painting and in its ability to combine both vector and pixel content together in a hybrid workspace.
Although Expression was originally available for both Windows and Mac platforms and can be obtained for free from Microsoft's Web site, Key confirmed there were no plans to offer a version of Acrylic for the designer-favoured Apple Macintosh.
Regarding the XPR file format Acrylic inherited from Expression, Key said there were no plans to publish its inner workings for interoperability purposes, although Microsoft would look at doing so in the future. On potential pricing, he was similarly taciturn.
"You can expect that Acrylic will be offered a price point that is in line with other professional design tools currently on the market today," he said.
Commenting on whether Acrylic had been in development since the 2003 Creature House acquisition, Key said while acquisitions like that of Creature House always brought with them a transition period, "the team has been at work on the product for quite a while".
Key said no release date had yet been announced for the final product, and Microsoft's current goal was to gather feedback from the community about the initial release of the software.