Over the past year you have heard me talk about the importance of user experience as a central part of software creation.  Increasingly customers and businesses are looking at differentiated, rich user experiences as a key success factor.   


Our goal is to unite the various roles that are part of the software development process and in the case of user experience we are very focused on bringing creative professionals into the fold.  We announced at PDC 2005 our strategy to provide a comprehensive platform and tools to make it easier for design and development teams to build better, more user-centric applications that span the desktop, web and devices. 


Today is an important and exciting milestone in that journey.


Earlier today we announced major enhancements to our Expression family of tools in Expression Studio and the first ever CTP of “WPF/E” which offers a rich, robust video platform for the Web.  Scott Guthrie talks more about “WPF/E” in his blog.


Expression Studio, when used in collaboration with our Visual Studio development tools  and the .NET platform technologies, brings design to the forefront of the software development process.


Expression Studio is an integrated suite for professional designers and includes Expression Web (which is shipping today), Expression Blend, Expression Design and a new tool, Expression Media, which provides digital asset management and unifies team workflow across the suite.  The suite is targeted to ship in the second quarter of 2007.  You can start playing with the Beta 1 of Expression Blend and the latest CTP of Expression Design by downloading these from here.


Early feedback from the customers that I have talked to is quite positive both on the need to craft design into the software development process and with regards to  the products and technologies that we are building to address the same.  


As always, I am really thankful for the community involvement and feedback which is critical to ensure that we are building the right products.  Expression Blend and Design for example, include a new user interface created specifically for professional designers which is based on extensive community feedback from our previous CTPs (we have had over a half-million downloads of the CTPs to date).


This is a great milestone.  We have a ways to go and I am looking forward to this fun journey with you all.