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Monthly Archives: April 2007

Last week we attended the latest in a line of events from Carson Systems – the Future of Web Design, yet again they pulled off another good event – even more so when you consider this was their first event in the designer area of the market.

This year Microsoft is making baby steps into the design community with the Expression Tools, Silverlight, WPF, ASP.Net AJAX and this was the next small step. Announcing everything to the community!

Coming hot on the heels of the NAB Silverlight announcements there was a lot of interest in the products and technology at the booth, and for us this event was really a put the flag in the ground moment, we’re here, we’re serious about the market, and we have some great v1 products and technology.

You can get a good feel for the event with Mel’s FOWD Flickr group here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mellyoggs/sets/72157600085645981/

We also sponsored the Microsoft Dungeon… or Lounge, or Chill Zone or… you get the idea… it was a great place to catch up with old friends, grab a drink and still have access to the slides and audio stream from the main conference.

The Lounge, full to the rafters, WiFi, power, bean bags what more do you need at a conference!

  

Microsoft Expression water, freshly bottled from Peckham Spring, and we got a great deal from Del Boy ūüėČ

 

Jon Harris
Microsoft, UXe

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Microsoft today announced Silverlight – a new, cross-platform, cross-browser plug-in for building the next generation of Media Experiences and Rich Interactive Applications (formerly known as “WPF/E”).

Microsoft Silverlight

In addition to Silverlight, Microsoft is also announcing Expression Media Encoder (for server or desktop video encoding), Hardware-accelerated video publishing and new media features to be included in the next version of Windows Server (“Longhorn”).

Rather than repeat all the launch information here, please visit the links below to find out more about Silverlight:

There will lots more information about Silverlight at MIX 07, which takes place at the end of the month in Las Vegas.

Posted by: Andrew Shorten

We’ve just completed some research with the web and digital agencies that Microsoft is working with in the UK – the headline news from the report is that 73% of participants believe that 2007 will see a significant increase in client demand for Rich Interactive Applications or RIAs.

In fact, from the responses provided, participants expected RIA to be the most significant new type of client offering this year. This is a great news – after what seems a long time coming there are now a number factors which indicate that 2007 will be the year of the RIA:

  • web and digital agencies are seeing increased client awareness about the need to differentiate through user experience
  • broad consumer and business audience awareness as to what constitutes a good computing experience is increasing as users are exposed to Vista and Office 2007  
  • a choice of application form-factors (or delivery mechanisms) now exist – browser, gadget, lightweight desktop, full desktop – one or more of which can be leveraged based upon the identified user requirements 
  • there is a choice of tools, technologies and runtimes from Microsoft, Adobe and others which designers and developers can leverage to deliver upon the promise of RIA

From a Microsoft perspective, some parts of the RIA picture are well defined now (WPF, Vista Gadgets), some are nearing completion (e.g. Expression Blend) and others (WPF/E included) are currently a work in progress – throughout this year though all the parts will come together to provide a comprehensive platform for delivering Rich Interactive Applications.

Whilst on this topic, one thing to note here is my use of the word Interactive, in the term RIA. There’s been some discussion over on Ryan Stewart’s blog about whether the often-used Rich Internet Application still conveys the right message. Ryan notes “The term does seem kind of odd in today‚Äôs world. Are there really any applications that aren‚Äôt connected to the internet? The term Rich Internet Application was coined way back in March of 2002, long before broadband was a realistic possibility for many people and before the web had really transformed everything.”

Microsoft, Ovum and others are referring to RIA to mean Rich Interactive, rather than Internet, Applications – the change representing a subtle, but important, difference which highlights the impact that interaction has on the usability, productivity, effectiveness, flexibility and relevance of an application. In addition, by removing specific reference to the internet, it recognises that the internet is now a fundamental part of today’s applications.

Bola Rotibi from Ovum defines Rich Interactive Applications as “applications that combine the light touch and ubiquity of a web application with the interactivity and functionality of a desktop application, and offer a consistent and effective user experience, both online and offline across a variety of devices and networks.” The report is definately worth a read – if you haven’t got an Ovum subscription you can purchase it here.

I’d be interested in your comments on the term RIA, what it means to you and whether you’re also expecting to see increased demand for RIAs this year.

We’re going to share the full report and analysis with those who participated in the research in a couple of weeks time at an event we’re running for web and digital agencies. If you’d like to receive a copy of the report in due course please contact me

Posted by: Andrew Shorten

Jon recently posted an entry about Expression Web and Expression Blend being included within MSDN Premium subscription. If you work in an agency which is new to Microsoft’s tools you might be wondering what an MSDN subscription gets you… so here is a quick quide.

In a nutshell, Visual Studio Professional and MSDN Premium subcriptions provide pretty much unlimited access to the latest Microsoft software development tools and server products.

Aimed at developers, an MSDN Premium subscription provides you with a version of Visual Studio 2005 (including software assurance for future versions during the subscription period), together with Expression Web and Expression Blend. It also includes development and test licenses for Microsoft’s desktop and server Operating Systems (Including Vista and the next release of Windows Server ‘Longhorn’), the Microsoft Office System, most Microsoft servers (including SQL Server, Sharepoint, Dynamics, etc) as well as 4 technical support incidents and access to the MSDN Library documentation.

A comparison of the different versions are available on the MSDN website. Visual Studio Professional with MSDN Premium would be a good place to start, with the UK price at around ¬£1700* per developer. There is a host of different licensing options available and if you’re likely to need 5 or more you should check out which is most suitable for your organisation

For designers, we’ve announced that Expression Studio will ship in the 2nd quarter of 2007 and will also include Visual Studio 2005; the UK price for Expression Studio will be around ¬£400*, with Expression Blend, Web and Media also available as seperate products.

* Note: please check with resellers for exact pricing.

Posted by: Andrew Shorten

This is the announcement a lot of people have been waiting and hoping for, the two Expression products most closely aligned with the developer community are now available as part of your MSDN Premium subscription.

Over the past couple of months there’s been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about the Expression products not¬†being available as part of the MSDN subscription – so what’s changed?

It’s been interesting being on the inside of the organisation and watching this decision unfold. The designer market is a new market that Microsoft is looking to address and all the way along we’ve been determined to take baby steps, not rush things and get the foundations right. This has been true both from the product side and the licencing side.

The question was always “do we put a series of new products targeted towards designers, the Expression products, into a subscription package aimed at developers”. As still a relative newbie to the company¬†I was pleased to see the Expression¬†team taking huge amounts of feedback¬†to help shape the decision.

We saw the feedback in the blogs, we spoke to thousands of developers, we discussed internally,¬†we listened – the feedback from our developer community was almost universal “Yes we’d like Expression Web and Blend within MSDN”.

We listened, we heard and we thought some more. I liked this approach – there was no knee jerk reaction, no rush, just a determination to make sure that the right decision was taken.

For Microsoft it’s important as¬†we address new markets such as the designer/agency market that¬†we provide a strong bridge between this new market and the market Microsoft traditionally¬†targets, the¬†developer market. The key to this is raising the understanding of what each party brings to the table – the whole designer and developer workflow continuum.

The workflow between the¬†designer and the developer is¬†one of the¬†key areas we’re tyring to address with the new Expression products and technologies.¬†To be honest the¬†best way to enable better understanding is to expose the different workflows and products to the different markets.

So developers receive copies of Expression Web and Expression Blend as part of their MSDN Premium subscription and can therefore gain a full understanding of how designers can collaborate with them using the Expression products. Designers who purchase the Expression Studio also receive a copy of Visual Studio in the box, helping them understand the collaboration, workflow and tools available to the developer. Sounds like a win win to me!

One final thought – next time we ask for feedback on a our software, direction, licencing or whatever the subject may be – remember this MSDN post – your voice is heard loud and clear, you can make a difference, we do listen, and we do try to do the right thing.

You can read further comments about this announcement on the following blogs:

S. Somasegar – http://blogs.msdn.com/somasegar/

Forest Key – http://keyux.spaces.live.com/blog/

Jon Harris
User Experience Evangelist, UK