Microsoft delivers two new design-tool betas

Microsoft delivered two new Expression design tool betas. And it sounds like the company's got some new Expression-WPF/E/SoapBox tie-ups in the works, as well.

The Microsoft Expression team has made available two new beta builds that folks interested in Microsoft's evolving design-tool products and strategy might want to check out.

There's a new build (Beta 2) of Expression Blend, the product formerly code-named "Sparkle" and a first full-fledged beta build of Expression Design, the product formerly code-named "Acrylic" available for download.

So far, no new build of Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere (WPF/E) -- Microsoft's Flash competitor. Microsoft released the first public Community Technology Preview test build of WPF/E  in early December. (Update: In this Channel 9 interview, Ian Ellison-Taylor, the Product Unit Manager for Windows Presentation Foundation,  says the next beta build of WPF/E is "another week or two" away.)

(Update No. 2: Ooops. Look like Ellison-Taylor was off by a bit. The February CTP of WPF/E is now available for download, as of February 1.)

But over on Beet.TV, there's a new video interview with a couple of the Microsoft folks involved with Expression and WPF/E.

Microsoft officials have said that Microsoft plans to deliver as part of its full Expression Studio suite a component known as Expression Media, which will include an encoder application allowing "video media assets to be batch encoded into various formats for deployment on the web, on devices, and in applications on Windows."

But there also seems to be a WPF/E-Expression connection, as the Beet.TV folks explain: "Existing .wmv files can be easily transfered to the new WPF/E platform," blogged Beet.TV's Andy Plesser. "So, a lot of Window Media player file will be more 'Flash' like -- which I think is important," he added."

"These WPF/E files will be shareable via an embed codes later this year," Plesser said. "I also learned that Microsoft's video sharing site SoapBox will shift from a Flash distribution to WPF/E within months."