I came to Microsoft roughly 7 months ago, and I kept hearing "Oh designers will love this" and "Developers will love that", and for me this did at times irritate me. You see, I'm neither really at heart, and if were to choose one or the other, I'd say I'm a designer. Yet my role clearly is a "Developer Evangelist" so shouldn't I be a "User Experience Evangelist".

Nope, that's a totally different breed and Shane's way more switched on this field then I'll ever be.

I mean this as typically most folks live on a gradient scale, and if you were to plot which tool you have open the most you'd be surprised which end of the gradient you sit in. I typically sit in Visual Studio 2008 (VS2008) these days more then I do with Expression Studio, and that's simply put because VS2008 has had huge productivity gains in Silverlight then Expression Blend (May Preview). That will change once both products are released I'm sure, overall though it's an interesting proposition to behold.

You see, Microsoft are smarter then most people give them credit for, as if you were to build a platform in which you wanted both sides of the brain to play in, how would you approach this? given that we all have various positions on the gradient. They simply build two sets of tools, Visual Studio 2008 will cater to the bulk of the Developer mindset. Expression Design will eventually cater towards the Design side of the brain, whilst Expression Blend will kind of sit in the middle. Empowering both sides of the fence to well  - Blend - together.

Up until now we've had a really strong focus on Expression Studio for obvious reasons, it's new and we realistically can't overload you folks in brand confusion. Silverlight has been announced, WPF is being strengthened every day and Windows Vista was launched, yet we aren't done. No sir, Visual Studio 2008 is the next wave to hit the developers shores and this is where you'll see gains in the WPF and Silverlight investments, as with simple but elegant updates to "Split View", Visual Studio 2008 itself starts to hint towards the middle piece of the gradient. It can allow a guy like me, whom is more of a "Interactive Producer" to play quite well in Visual Studio 2008 without having to open Expression Studio should I not wish to. Yet, life will obviously be much easier if I do, so let me make that clear.

The point is, this is Microsoft in a nutshell, we typically have this massive eco-system surrounding these two tools, and you have a lot of movement in which you can hitch your own career roadmap's around.  The power of Expression Studio and Visual Studio 2008, mixed with service cloud and all the of the platform foundations (get ready for Windows 2008 to hit soon), Microsoft is getting its posture right. There is more work to be done, but think of this a sky scraper being built. The whole has been dug, it's got the first few floors laid, we're working on the Elevator Shaft each day and slowly we'll have the skyscraper built. It's not a sprint, it's going to be a marathon but if  you stick around, invest in us long enough you'll soon get access to the penthouse suite (for those of you whom hung in on that analogy i thank you).

When we say Developer vs Designer, we don't mean you're chalk or cheese, but we simply say that if you live on the gradient, there are tools that sit on both ends but both creep inward towards the middle.

This is Visual Studio 2008 and Expression Studio in a nutshell. Like it or lump it, that's that.