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Microsoft Announces Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere and Expression Studio
New tools for video encoding and management, as well as cross-platform rich media integration, show renewed commitment to video in Redmond.
Mon., Dec. 4, by Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen

Microsoft's announcement today of the Expression Studio suite of design tools is notable for reasons beyond than the fact that one of the tools, Expression Media, offers multiformat digital video asset management and a new batch video encoder, or that another tool announced today, code-named "Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere" (WPF/E), will be a direct competitor to Flash. A closer look at both the products and Microsoft's strategy indicates that the company is, in fact, killing more than two birds with one stone.

Microsoft has been roundly criticized for not emphasizing interface design and ease of use, and in the past year has also faced criticism that it was no longer providing adequate support for users of Windows Media tools. Then, of course, there's the criticism that the company doesn't respond to user criticism by making significant changes to its products. That seems to be changing with Expression Studio, a collection of design tools created with graphic designers in mind, and Expression Media, which hints at Microsoft's renewed commitment to video.

"Today we took an important first step towards providing customers an easy and seamless way to integrate rich video and audio to any website that runs cross-platform and cross browser with the first preview of Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (codenamed 'WPF/E' - final name TBA)," says Forest Key, director of web/client UX platform marketing in the Microsoft developer division.

Below: Microsoft's Forest Key

Forest Key

"Far from abandoning media on the web, or for the Mac for that matter, I think those that take a look at the WPF/E demos on our website will have no doubt about our seriousness for the web video space with multiple groups across Microsoft contributing to this initiative," Key says. "Our group is contributing to this with WPF/E, developing what we think will be the best solution for rich media experiences on the web and beyond."

Streaming Media executive VP Dan Rayburn, who's been involved in online video for more than a decade, says that Microsoft's renewed commitment to video is both needed and welcome. "Customers using Windows Media have been saying that Microsoft lacks support for the Windows Media platform with new features, functionality and technical improvements for quite some time," Rayburn says. "This announcement by Microsoft today—and the additional announcements they are expected to make throughout the new year—are exciting as they show Microsoft is once again going to commit resources to make their online video platform a core component of their overall product and business strategy. That's good news for customers and consumers alike."