I love it when the press in their desire to pull readers exaggerates (I’ve talked about this before more than once – and y’know the myopia of the press just never gets old to me)… Here’s my favorite of the week… Microsoft Unveils Expression Studio Design Tools Suite, ‘Flash Killer’.
The way it reads you’d think all anyone at MS does is look at other products and say "Ooooh Here’s a Good Product — Let’s KILL IT!!". If they did, Microsoft would have gone under a long time ago with all the other companies that have that philosophy — and with all companies that have that philosophy, they’d have dragged a lot of the competition down with them.
That’s not how things work there thank dogs and kittens. Having been a user of FrontPage from the beta days, it’s always been the ugly stepchild of web development. If you knew how to tweak it – you could do amazing things in half the time anyone else out there could. I still remember an old timer telling me "I can code the same page in Notepad in half the time you will messing with that…", only to hand in my page prototype completed in 20 minutes while he was still working out his table tags for content.
If you seriously coded web pages – you went to something like Visual Studio to access any kind of programming. There was a reason for this, it’s because FrontPage for all it’s bells and whistles was never meant for the programmers out there. It was meant for the less-than-uber geeks and mom & pop shops who had a need to do web pages without knowing the ins and outs of HTML but wanted it to look good and not a lot more. Over time, the demands of the less-than-uber became greater and sadly – our own programming aristocracy determined if you had it on your resume – you lacked mad skillz.
Flash – similarly, was never meant to be a programmers tool. It’s a media tool. Even calling it a "web media tool" is a misnomer — it’s capabilities go beyond the web and have since version 4.0. So let’s drop hanging names on products if they don’t fit. It was meant to be what it is. To call the next logical progression of web tools from Microsoft the "Flash Killer" is just media hype. They are what they are.
Will one of them compete with the other? Definitely. Expression Web Designer – is a comparable product to those who need Dreamweaver’s interface and capabilities. So there’s always going to be a comparison there. Is Expression Designer comparable to Adobe Photoshop? Yup. But are they designed to penetrate the same markets? No. You’d have to have played with both to see the key differences but both are accessing very different levels of the market. Levels that both products are well suited for.
Is that line blurring? Yup. But that’s not Microsoft or Adobe’s design – it’s the market itself. Seven years ago, most web clients would come to me and ask for a web page – they didn’t care or necessarily want a database driven web portal that had feeds and dynamic content, cascading style sheets and so on. Today that’s expected. And in fact, most of them – can with a little work be taught to update these kind of sites themselves.
The real "Flash Killer" or "_________ Killer" out there – is not some product developed by a competitor, it’s the needs of the end users out there. If Dreamweaver meets them – so be it – if Flash meets them so be it – if Expression meets them – so be it. Competition in the upcoming Web 2.0 will be driven the way it always has, by the customers and the market. If Microsoft’s got the market targeted properly – they’ll attain a dominance. That’s the bottom line. No killers, just an understanding of what people need.