2012-12-22

Expression Suite was a marketing disaster

If you view this page on the Microsoft web site, you'll see that they are discontinuing the Expression suite of designer tools. In my opinion Expression was a marketing disaster, not so much a technology one. The problem with using "Expression X" for a program name (for some value of X) is that I tend to concentrate on the "Expression" and not on the "X". There were several very different products that essentially had the same name.

What Microsoft should have done is called the products Microsoft Blend, Microsoft Design, etc., and then bundled them in the Microsoft Designer Suite. They don't call the Office products Office Word and Office Excel, do they? Expression Design, Expression Web, Expression Blend, and Expression Encoder were four very different products and to make them all have Expression as the most predominate part of the name was a mistake.

Blend (the really critical piece of the Expression suite), at least, will be making its way into Visual Studio, while the other products are becoming unsupported orphans. You can download Expression Design 4, Expression Web 4, and Expression Encoder 4 (but not Pro) for free from the Microsoft web site (get them while you can!). It's good that I will only need to buy Visual Studio to get the Blend features as well.

Microsoft orphaning products or technologies is never a good thing. People invest huge amounts of time and effort learning these products and technologies, sometimes basing their careers on them. When Microsoft abandons a product, the people and companies who have invested in it are left having to scramble to move to some other product or technology. The fact that Microsoft is giving the products away for free doesn't change the fact that they are at end of life and a dead end. I suspect if the Expression suite had been marketed right (with a different name) and allowed to flourish, they would have become respected members of the Microsoft product line.

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