Hello FY07, Farewell FY06


July 1 marks the start of the new financial year. It’s like the start of a
new season in footy. We have plans, commitments, targets, strategies and
tactics.

What happened during the past 12 months. Let’s reflect

What’s ahead for this year? Let’s take a quick look

and that’s just the next 6 months.

Comments (26)
  1. ben barren says:

    frank. nice one today for saints !!!

    i think your goal this year should be to be on an australian premium itunes download.. eg

    FY 08 Achievements – AU Blogfather

    * Downloaded 100,000 times on Itunes Interactive TV/Video

  2. Jeff Headley says:

    "What can I do this year that I’ve never done before?" asks the restless digital craftsman. "Create stylish, eye-catching designs" seems to be this year’s answer with Vista’s new graphics and Expression’s new tools. And Style is how you attract a new audience. The current programmers will love the many new product upgrades in the next twelve months, but this could be the year the Creative Community has to sit up and take notice that Microsoft, for the first time, is seriously coming to their turf.

  3. I'd rather not tell... says:

    Jeff,

    are you seriously suggesting that the Expression products are in the same league as Adobe’s Creative Suite, Production Suite and Web Bundles?

    Maybe in 3 or 4 years time, if and when Microsoft realizes that 90% of todays designers are using Macs. I don’t expect this figure to change much since the graphics production workflow (especially in print) heavily depends on Adobe’s mix of products and Mac integration.

    "developers creating stylish, and eye-catching designs"? God help us all…

    as Balmer said: "Developer, developers, developers…" …well designers aint developers! I don’t think MS is getting it (just yet).

    I think there is a new bread of designer is town… not quite a coder and not quite a communications designer… should we call them Interactive Designers?

    On a different note, it’s quite sad that MS already had a very promising graphics design package back in ’96. I can’t remember the name but it really gave Photoshop a run for it’s money. Not sure why it was killed but I bet if MS would have stuck with it they would have a serious competitor today…

  4. Jeff Headley says:

    Programmers are rarely designers, so why should we expect designers to become programmers. But every team I’ve headed or known for web design has people with different skills, including a code monkey who can bring the design to life and tie it to a database. That team is the target audience for Expressions.

    Think Adobe isn’t vulnerable? They "got" the desktop publishing wave and established themselves, but Macromedia "got" the Internet wave that Adobe missed (hence they bought them). But Adobe won’t come out with a version of their products optimised for Mac Intel chips until this time next year. And they’re pinning their Interactive Website hopes on a PC-only application released a few days ago, Flex 2, that requires an experienced Java programmer comfortable with Eclipse.

    Perhaps you haven’t sensed the disarray in the Adobe camp? They saw how easy it was a few years ago to steal the market from a competitor who had a huge mindshare, Quark XPress. They know the wheel can turn.

    Microsoft’s potential audience is Interactive Designers who want connecting to data sources to be easy and secure. They als want to leverage what they already know from Dreamweaver and Photoshop and have it all integrate tightly. They don’t want one person to play Superman and do it all; they want the skills spread over the team in a way where the job can flow from one member to the next.

    And if they discover that Microsoft lets their team work together better than Adobe does they’ll listen.

    Then when they discover they can integrate Macs and PCs in the same network, tied to the same server, in the same security context, using Adobe and Expression products together in the same workflow, I think they’ll do more than listen. I’m doing that now, its working brilliantly, and a number of people are watching over my shoulder with interest.

  5. I'd rather not tell... says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Interesting opinion. A few points though…

    1) Adobe made their fortune because they offered a workflow solution which integrated from design right through to print.

    2) Macromedia made their fortune because they managed to deliver two key products enableing people to delop for the web (Dreamweaver and Flash). They also managed to engadge the design and development community in a clever way to really drive the adoption of those products.

    3) Microsoft made their fortune because they managed to get their Operating system to OEM vendors through an easy to understand licensing scheme plus deliverying an integrated office suite. This provided everything a typical office drone needed in neat package.

    It seems to me the strategy behind the Expression products is to provide a set of development tools to create visually rich interfaces for Windows Vista. Other than that I don’t see your point about MS Expression products allowing people to do work in a more integrated way than Adobe’s CS suite of products. As far as web design, video production and print goes MS has nothing to compete with Adobe (not that I think this is the point or intention anyway).

    The main oversight on Microsoft’s part in my opinion is that they haven’t released a Mac version of their products.

    Obviously your work differs quite a bit from what I do. I usually work in teams of up to about 4 freelancers developing web applications. Apps are being build using HTML/XTML/CSS and Flash mixing in PHP, CFM and .Net back-end development with a sprinkle of video etc. . I use Windows XP as well Mac OSX altough I seems I am in the minority in the regards to having Win XP box.

    I wouldn’t consider anyone I know a Superman but we all do a fair bit of coding as well as design. Most large agencies find this confronting as they like to pigenhole people which I guess allows them to have more people involved in a project and ultimately charge their clients more money.

    Don’t get me wrong. If XAML takes off and there is a dollar to be made I’ll be one of the first people to line up (might have to dig up those VB and C++ books again). However, so far the Flash platform has provided me with a consistent income stream and as far as clients understanding RIAs is concerned it only seems to be the beginning…

  6. Jeff Headley says:

    Dear Rather Not…

    I agree with many of your points…

    1. Adobe rules the world of print through a series of products using postscript, and Apple has traditionally implement postscript more reliably than Windows. As InDesign vanquished Xpress the two As consolidated a narrow but important creative market.  As Production Manager in ad agencies here and overseas I’ve lived this world and use Macs and Adobe’s Creative Suite to this day. But this turf was innovative in the ‘80s and consolidated in the late ‘90s with little innovation in the last 5+ years. Traditional print-based designers have been resistant to retasking for the web, which opened the door for…

    2. Macromedia to dominate “Web 1.0” where design and interactivity (within the page) mattered, while tying to a database was the afterthought that brought them to buy Allaire (for Cold Fusion). They’ve tried to accommodate all standards but have stayed within their narrow focus of the creative community except for their bold experiment with Flex. Yet their effectiveness in establishing Dreamweaver & Flash as standards are probably why six of the top eight positions in the new Adobe are Macromedia execs, including the top guy. I’ve led the local user group for years.

    The merger has forced considerable adjustments on everyone in the company and many of their efforts are focussed inward, not unlike what has happened to Microsoft in recent years as they had to reinvent themselves. Sitting at the table, still digesting what you’ve eaten, is not good timing when your competitors are back on their feet and running after your market.

    3. Apple is more a competitor than a partner to Adobe, who’ve responded by dropping Premiere from the Mac platform and publishing specs showing Photoshop running much faster on PCs than Macs. Look at Apple’s “Pro” target audience categories :

     Graphic Design

     Interactive/Animation

     Music/Audio

     Video/Film/Broadcast

     Photography

     Architecture

     System Administrator

    Those are pretty much the categories that encompass any “Interactive Designer” (nice phrase, by the way). Apple wants to take over Adobe’s turf, and is happy to offer products in many of these categories that only work on one operating system like Final Cut Pro, Aperture, Logic Pro, Shake and their “iSomething” apps. Some of these are already standards for their market segment. Someone else who also smells blood is…

    4. Microsoft who understand that the relationship between the user interface and the underlying data is far more sophisticated, and involves far more security issues, than anything Adobe offers. Yes, Vista will offer significant new graphics capabilities that we will all be tempted to exploit to do things we haven’t been able to do in the past.

    Expression tools will allow you to pass things back and forth between Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and their Expression counterparts without any issues, so anything you start on the Adobe side can be continued on the Microsoft side.

    And most Mac users haven’t discovered that OS X 10.4 allows them to integrate seamlessly with Windows Server 2003, even at the highest security levels if you add ADmit Mac.  There’s no reason for Macs and PCs to live in different networks, or to act like they can’t work together. This is just one of so many new abilities that break down the barriers between OS X and Windows, and between the apps they both run. You can use each for what they do best.

    And despite my love for Adobe apps, there are some things that Expression products clearly do better. There are reviews here on Frank’s site (see “a new family of products” link above) that elaborate. When clients see these new abilities I think they’ll want them. So if we want to keep the clients happy we’ll need to gain these new skills.

    I think the market is much more fluid and competitive than it’s been for years. And these are great products. Perhaps you should try them out “in anger” and see whether you’re going to take them seriously?

  7. I'd rather not tell... says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I would agree that competition forces innovation. Personally I am a bit surprised Apple hasn’t dropped their own flavor of Office onto the market just yet.

    FYI, I have downloaded and played with all three Expression products. I think Web Designer is currently the strongest competition. Will I drop dreamweaver? Probably not yet. Although the CSS features are nice.

    Interactive Designer is neat to some extend but I can’t get my head around how the backend code will tie in. Perhaps MS needs to publish some small examples.

    Graphic Designer doesn’t really fit into my workflow. Maybe when you need to author XAML it will make more sense.

    While the Expression products are currently "free" I doubt they will remain so or MS might face some further anti trust law suits.

    This raises the issue of why buy new software when I already have a fully licensed Adobe Suite which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and Flash.

  8. My 2 Cents says:

    Well, I couldn’t read this post without adding my own comments.  

    Anybody who thinks ‘workflow’ can only work on a Mac and that only Adobe has done it needs some lessons…  Workflow is workflow, it can be done on any platform in any language and was *not* invented in the computer age.

    The reason MS have not created Mac versions… they don’t sell.  With such a small market share, why would any company make a business decision to support it.

    The only reason the print industry does not move off the Mac platform is because they are gullable enough to think it is better.  Get out of the 1996’s. Apples move to Intel chips… now MacOS is ‘just another alternative OS’.  If you want smooth integration with ‘real’ database products, Windows is the answer.

    All the Adobe products work on Windows and with the unbeatable tools and flexablility in Windows, who wouldn’t pick it as the premier OS.  The Expression tools take it to the next level, have you ever tired to program In-Design???  I have and the things I can do in 2 seconds in .NET take months and are terribly slow with Adobe products.

  9. I'd rather not tell... says:

    Hey My 2 Cents…

    Hm, you are reading some interesting interpretations into my exchange with Jeff. Let me clarify a few things:

    1) My current primary machine is a Windows XP box. I also use a Dell laptop running Windows XP. In addition there is a Core Duo powered Mac sitting on my desk. However, my primary machine is Windows XP at the moment. At the end of the day I don’t care what the OS is for as long I get the job done. At the moment it’s Windows XP because that’s what all my software is licensed for.

    2) I never said workflow only worked on a Mac or only with Adobe products. For any photography jobs for example my workflow is as follows: sort/ catalogue images with ACDSee Pro -> process RAW files with Canon Digital Photo Pro -> re-touch processed Tif files with Photoshop CS2 -> output either directly to an Epson 9800 or send via PDF to commercial Printer using their print profiles embedded in PDF.

    3) If Mac versions don’t sell how come Microsoft is still developing Mac Office? Fact is, whether you or I like it, there are plenty of designers out there which will never touch Windows XP or Vista out of principal. You can argue with those guys until the cows come home (trust me I have tried) they won’t change.

    4) The reason why the print industry is using Adobe products is mainly because PDF is a quasi standard for them (a bit like MS Word for corporates). One of the many reasons why they use Macs is because OS X has many features aimed squarely at design/ print folks. One of the biggest drawbacks I have been dealing with under Windows XP is that color calibration of two monitors using a hardware device is mostly a hit and miss affair. You get one monitor right but the second one is a real pain. Macs have been able to handle and calibrate two monitors for years. I know some photographers that bought a Mac solely for that reason. I haven’t checked this in Windows Vista yet but I hope Microsoft fixed this.

    5) So MySQL, Ingress or Oracle running under xterm aren’t real database products? I think Microsoft has done a great job at providing software developers with an integrated suite of products. No question about it. The same can’t be said about graphics applications. Expression is the first serious attempt. But for it to really shine developers will need the input from end users as to what they actually need.

    6) So have you actually used Mac OSX? It seems to me you are a devoted Windows user. Nothing wrong with that. A lot of the arguments I am hearing from you are the same stubborn arguments I am hearing from the Mac camp. At the end of the day I couldn’t care less what operating system is running for as long as I get the Job done as quickly as possible.

    7) Why would I want to programm In-Design? I want to layout a magazine not develop software. Can you layout a magazine with .Net?

    Coming back to the original argument about the Expression products, the fact remains if you want to see mass adoption to the level that Flash experienced you will need to get those design folk involved at some stage. I doubt anyone with a Mac will run out and buy Windows XP or Vista only to try out Expression. If I remember correctly Expression Graphic Designer used to be called Acrylic and existed as both a Windows and Mac application before MS bought it. I can only assume that Microsoft wants to stop all Mac development in the future and hence discontinued the Mac version… fair enough.

    I think the biggest challenge in selling the Expression application suite to designers is giving them a reason why they would want to use it over what ever they might be using already. Alternatively you want to show them how these products fit into their current workflow and what benefits they will gain from using them.

    At the moment we are talking early adoption. What would sell people to these products is a clear and honest message around the strategy behind the Expression suite. Secondly, an online community providing a steady stream of examples would be good. Most Expression blogs referenced on the MS site have their most recent entries dating back to as far as March. Makes me wonder where this whole project is at. And lastly, a case needs to be made how I can make money from this.

    Personally there are a few things I am keen to try with Expression Interactive Designer and XAML. They mainly centre around graphical interfaces which currently can be done in Flash. With the current lack of good books or documentation on the subject I find it hard to make enough time to really get a footing in this.

    Perhaps I need to apply for that Design Tool Evangelist job. Maybe that would allow me to spend some time to get up close and personal with these products and then hopefully get some other people excited as well.

    Ah, well. Better get back to hand holding my needy clients… [to be continued?]

  10. My 2 Cents says:

    Hi ‘Rather Not’,

    1) Great.  Come over to the ‘dark’ side :-)

    2) Ok, so ‘workflow’ to you means doing it all manually.  I thought you meant an ‘automated’ workflow.

    3) mmm no Office 12 for Mac (at least no information, no beta or anything else)…

    4) Agree, the industry is stuck on Mac’s, maybe forever…  The risk to Apple is that the others have caught up (or are catching up).  There is a heck of a lot of software for PC’s and fraction for Mac.

    5) Oracle certainly is a worthy database, MySql is certainly not… (start another war here??)  My point was that accessing other systems/products is very easy under Windows and can be significantly harder under other OS’s.

    6) Yes and Yes… interacting with other systems is a key issue for business.  Standalone applications are not what most business’s need/want.  As far as getting the job done… how many Mac OSX courses/trainers are there??

    7) In-Design is a tool, ‘copy text’ can come from a database/web or anything else.  When you need to pump out 1,000 ad’s a week you NEED automation.  And Yes, you can layout a magazine with .NET, as long as you generate a PDF and it pre-flights correctly, there is no reason you can’t.  Workflow comes in here too, if you build versioning, approval processing and copywritting into the system.  I know of some organisations that would ‘snap up’ a system right now.

    I agree, a critical mass needs to be achieved before it will be really adopted.  One of the limits in Flash is the lack of accessability (aka W3C WACG), unless Flash (and MS please take note) can do this in future, no large organisation with an external facing web site will use it.

    Has the Design Tool job closed yet?? :-)

    P.S.  If you are going to Tech.Ed, lets catch up for a Beer.

  11. frankarr says:

    the job is still open. i am still looking for the right person

    "My 2 Cents" – drop me a note if you are interested

  12. My 2 Cents says:

    mmm… then I’d have to reveal my alter-ego…  :-)

  13. I'd rather not tell... says:

    Hey My 2 Cents,

    Flash 8/ 9 has support for accessability build to some extend. I am not sure about XAML. I think this is an intersting point though. I always wonder to what extend accessability makes sense for purely visual interfaces. It’s all easy for mostly textual resources. Once you require users to interact with your app in ways that go beyond point and click it does raise the question how accessible you can actually make it for users with visual disabilities.

    A lot of companies (including some top 50 Australian Companies) I am doing Flash and web development for currently choose to rather ignore the issue of accessability.

    On a different note, I found a nice mash up of Flash 9 and WPF today. It uses the new sound spectrum analyser in Flash Player 9 to interpret an mp3 file. The output is send via a C# function to WPF for visualization.

    The WPF app then manipulates a number of  3dimensional rings based on the data handed over by Flash 9.  The example includes source code and required Flash Player 9 as well as .Net 3.0. You can check it out here over at theflashblog.com:

    http://theflashblog.com/?p=186

    I won’t be able to make it to Tech.Ed due to a major project deadlines I have at the end of that week. There are a two or three sessions I’d be very interested in but don’t want to shell out $1800 for three presentations.

    Happy to catch up for a beer and muse a bit more about the subject 😉 . I actually live and work in Sydney close to Darling Harbour.

    Do you have an email address such as My2Cents@gmail.com where I can get in touch? … or do I need to reveal my alter-ego as well?

  14. Good to see most companies ignore accessiblity stuff :-)  I remember a project in 2003 where it took 2 months to develop then 3 months to get the WCAG compliance (with AGLS and other stuff too).  What a headache…

    I suppose most companies don’t really need to worry about WCAG.  Government unfortunately need to.  I know with Visual Studio 2005 accessiblity gets a bit easier with the built-in validation, but there is still a long way to go.  Technologies like AJAX and Flash just won’t fit WCAG (unless things change).  As far as XAML goes… I would hope that WCAG or such is built in as it is in .NET 1.x-2.0.

    The Flash stuff looks cool…

    I got a free ticket to Tech.Ed (as an MCT Proctor, that should give you a hint…) and work is paying the airfare/accom.  I’ll definately want to catch up, can’t miss out on a good argument!!  Click the link to my blog for more info… :-)

  15. Jeff Headley says:

    Hi 2 cent T (and greetings to Rather Not),

    Fun to read your back and forth but it reads like a primer on how to kill interest in Expression:

    1. Trash that which is important to the potential user by telling them their operating system is wrong. Maybe you’d like to tell them to change their religion while you’re at it? Oh, you just did. Don’t suppose you want to venture any passion about C# vs VB.NET while you’re at it? "Evangelism" of any sort usually tries to win them over.

    2. Major on the Minor – the target audience is Interactive Designers, so you’ve focussed on print. Automating workflow for production of print ads using Visual Studio is a great idea if you want to…

    3. As them to be a programmer not a designer or, in other words, "be like me, not like you." You’re not a designer. Microsoft has developed new products to reach a new audience, not only to give their existing audience new tools that require skills very different than their natural gifts. And then there’s that other bit of silence where you…

    4. Don’t mention Expression products. This gets around Rather Not’s observation, "if you want to see mass adoption to the level that Flash experienced you will need to get those design folk involved at some stage".

    I believe the Expression products have something significant to offer the Interactive Designer community. I’m afraid that if we fail to reach out to that community and show them some great new things they can do with Expression apps, in terms that matter to them, then these products won’t have a future.

    And from what I’ve seen they deserve a great one. I’m happy to take on those other discussion, though, over coffee during TechEd or whenever.

  16. My 2 Cents says:

    Jeff,

    Please define ‘Interactive Designers’… it seems like a soft, fluffy group of people (maybe living on some far far away planet).  I certainly haven’t got my head around exactly what it means.

    What types of applications are these people creating?  What is the target audience?  Can they be taken seriously?  Are they decision makers or just worker bees?

    And… how many are in Australia compared to other countries?

    MacOS is a good product, but there are simply not enough of the rich, *comprehensive* tools around to make it integrate with mainsteam (read Windows) platforms.  

    As far as C# v’s VB.NET… well, I’d say MSIL is the best :-)  Seriously, both are good, and people are starting (slowly) to realise that the language does not matter but the Framework DOES.

    I agree developers are not (often) graphic artists, but a blending of technology with manual creative process needs to be established.  Too much dull and boring stuff (like JavaScript, ActionScript and other programming tasks) are being done by creative people.  

    Expression allows them (creative types) to focus on the creative stuff without being bogged down with writting code.  But… they can then hand over to code cutters and get a really spiffy site/application created.

    All in All… it is a tough audience to convince.  Thats why I believe you need to focus on the decision makers and partner with them.  Talking low down to the individual designers will not win the war and most likely they won’t even speak to you unless you work for Adobe or Apple :-)

    It’s good that we can talk like this.  Maybe Frank needs to give us an audience (face-to-face) with the Expression team.  I am sure we can add significant value to the product.  It’s the best way to help deliver a killer product that people can’t ignore.

  17. I'd rather not tell... says:

    Hi Jeff,

    ah… we are finally getting somewhere. Okay so let’s assume the primary audience for the expression products is Interactive Designers (to which category I count myself for 60% of my work time). Here a number of pointer which would help:

    1) Understand your target audience. (I know this is a duh point but I think we are all sometimes guilty of getting caught up in our own little worlds.)

    2) Clearly tell people what your strategy is!!! From the MIX 06 videos it doesn’t seem to come across. Tell me where you want to go with your tool and I’ll tell you if that’s what I need.

    3) Establish an online resource centre with links to blogs, examples and other interesting tid bids. (The resources on the MS site are not update, links poin to pages which in some cases don’t even exist anymore)

    4) Get people who have developed with these tools to publish short articles on how they achieved certain elements of their final works. (eg. the Northface guy). Pay them money if you have to.

    5) Provide small examples that allow people to "dabble" with the technology. I believe this is what really made Flash. Having people like Joshua Davis "dabble" with it and sharing their experiences through code samples. People seem to like their heros.

    6) Start looking to evangalise outside of the audiences you readily have access to. Don’t present at Tech.ED… go and present/ visit conferences like Flashforward, Adobe Max or Semi-Permanent. That’s where you will find your future users. Get word out that Microsoft isn’t all that bad. At the end of the day MS is trying to make a $ like everyone else. If they provide me with a tool that makes me a $ too… hey that’s a win win situation. No?

    7) I still say it: "Provide a Mac version quick smart!!!" I haven’t tried it yet but will shortly give Expression a shot under Parallels/ Windows XP on the Mac… you guys have played with Mac OSX right? If not see point #1?

    Dang, maybe I should really apply for that Evangelist job…

    PS: ignore my writing style or any typos… I hard ever read through comments I type into blogs… it’s all typed down straight from the harddrive fo my mind…

    Hey 2 Cents… I’ll track you down re having that drink.

  18. Jeff Headley says:

    Hi Rather Not & 2 cents,

    I’ll be writing short messages until this time tomorrow (those darn customers…) but core ideas (stated in big, broad strokes):

    1. Interactive Designers create Web 2.0 sites and apps. They work in teams, and the head of that team needs to see value that Expression apps can add. A member of that team writes code that connects to a datasource and/or makes it "come alive". I firmly believe that .NET does this better than anything else.

    2. Mac OS X 10.4 has many advantages over Windows XP Pro, but VISTA matches or exceeds it in most every area. The current edition of PCAuthority mag (while biased by name) does a pretty fair comparison (http://www.pcauthority.com.au/magazine.aspx) based on my experience of using VISTA daily since early builds to now as my primary OS (yes, I bleed on the edge). That said, I’m still a heavy Mac/Adobe/Macromedia user.

    3. I’m a graphic artist with a large portfolio done mostly in Adobe/Macromedia products and I’m a certified trainer with both (and I’ll shorthand both as Adobe from now on). I’ve led and managed half million dollar website creation projects from scratch (using .NET even from beta for 1.0). I also have some filmmaking awards so, by nature, I’m an artist…

    BUT

    I’m a Microsoft Certified Trainer, the first MCP in Australia more than a decade ago, and train in MS desktop apps / project management / networking / databases / programming…

    SO

    I have a foot in both worlds (and an identity crisis?) because I believe they work together.

    That’s what interests me in Expression apps – they have a foot in both worlds. I believe that Interactive Designer teams MUST live in both worlds.

    Years ago I interviewed a filmmaker who ventured his opinion that Leonardo Da Vinci, if alive today, would be making movies because his images could have colour and life and movement. I think today Leonardo would be into Interactive Design.

    How do we move this forward? What objections remain?

    I’m itching to make something that becomes a live example and tutorial, not just to talk about it. All this writing about it is just feeding the urge to dabble. I did promise some friends who run a retreat house on the peak of Cheung Chau island, an hour’s ferry ride from Hong Kong, that I’d do them a new site when I was there a fortnight ago. Might be time to pull together a team…

    Now, finding that time when I don’t even take the time to proof my typing before post… Rather Not, if you’ll forgive my errors…

    ¿Usted goza tan de una buena lucha, Frank? ¡Solamente uno de esta gente es yo! Pero entiendo. Al principio I pensó que el otro pudo ser usted en disfraz.

  19. I'd rather not tell... says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Not to diss PC Authority but the only mag I read and accept as valuable (read unbias) is the German Ct Magazine. It’s not for your average computer user but when they publish an article it’s written by professionals with an unbias approach to technology… everything else is just fluffware. Ask any German speaking IT professional who has worked in Germany… they will confirm this statement. To be honest, In the english speaking world you are better off getting your knowledge from sites like Tomshardware than a magazine which is funded by advertising. Nuff said.

    RE Vista, I agree with you that Vista has improved alot over Win XP. I must say though that I have always hated the lollipop look of Win XP and don’t understand why they didn’t tone it down a bit more in Vista. OSX has always done a good job in not trying to tire out your eyes buy using a lot of "boring" neutral grey. Hey there is a reason you know… anyone listeing at Micorosft? When wil they finally offer a neutral grey desktop theme?

    So far I run my WinXP desktop in a neutral gray and switched on Classic mode to get rid of those god awful colors. As far as features go I don’t think comparing OSX to Vista makes a lot of sense. OSX is a year old. Vista is not coming out for another 6 months at least… maybe they should have waited till August and compared it against Leopard instead.

    I don’t dispute that Microsoft products make sense for a lot of business applications but I also know that alot of companies sell multi million dollar web sites which could ulimately be build with 3 or 4 people… I call it agency rot.

    Regarding your point 1)… I still remain by my point that Flash had mass adoption because it was easily accessible cross platform both on the playback and authoring side of things. I think MS would do itself a huge favour to release Mac versions of the Expression Suite. I still need to see how much mileage I could get out of Parallels.

    Regarding your teamleader comment… I hope it’s not Microsofts stragety to force new technology down peoples throughts… I think that can only back fire.

    I don’t get your comment re being an artist, filmmaker, MS trainer etc. etc. . What’s your point? I could wax on about having done award winning TVCs for Triple J, worked as a technical lead on one of Australia’s 10 bussiest site, having consulted for companies in NYC, England and Germany, having actively worked as a team member pushing web ISO standards…

    Expression products don’t really have foot in both world btw…

    – Expression designer is a design program for screen graphics. Want the proof? Try to create a document which is 210×270 cm @ 200 dpi. You get the error message "pixel resolution to high". Well, I did a billboard last week which had exactly those measurement…

    – Expression Interactive Designer is a program to create fancy interfaces for Win XP and Win Vista.

    – Expression Web Designer is a web strandards based program (for now anyway) which also understands .Net.

    So in a nutshell: at this point in time Expression products where created to support a work flow for creating digital interfaces for the WPF (or .Net 3.0 framework as I believe it is called now). It runs only in the Windows world…

    98% of designers out there use Macs. So unless you are happy with 2% of that market the big question is: how do you get those 98% on board. Anyone got any answers?

    PS: Are you trying to bribe Frank with some fish or something?

    PSS: I went to Semi-Permanent in Sydney today… didn’t see any presence from Microsoft there. Maybe they should start branching out a little. As a matter of fact, when I last checked there was not a single item on the agenda of Tech.ED regarding the Expression suite of products. As I said… understand your audience!!!

  20. My 2 Cents says:

    Hi ‘Rather Not’,

    Colours are personal choice, bagging an entire OS because you don’t like the colour… now I’ve heard it all.  BTW, you have been able to change the colours since Windows 3.1.  Isn’t the ‘silver’ colour scheme a neutral gray…

    I have worked on $2.5 million dollar (US) projects that were websites created by 3 people… so what’s your point?  Over charging is over charging.  Getting away with it is just good business, just ask Caltex (and the rest)…

    If there were more people interested in Macs, MS would do a release… wouldn’t they?

    Expression is not just about graphics.  It is an environment for creating XML.  This XML uses a schema called Xaml.  WPF can use it but… the power lies in the fact that it can be created from anywhere by anything and used anywhere on anything…

    The same can be said of PDF (you can get the PDF spec for free and use it to create your own PDF’s, something I have done in the past…)  But PDF is ‘locked’ into Adobe (copyright etc… like it or not).  Xaml is NOT and is FAR easier to work with because it is just XML.  Do a search for ‘Xaml’ in Google, I got almost 3 million hits… looks like it is here to stay!!

    Interactive Designer is a tool for making Xaml programable.  No reason someone could’t write a port for Unix, Linux, Symbian (dare I say OSX) or any other OS.  That’s what the Mono project did for .NET and Linux.

    I had a look at the Semi-Permanent web site… what was the overall demographic?  I am ultra-critical of large events like this (including the IBM and MS ones so I am not picking on Semi-Permanent) often it is just a way to make money or get investors.

    And lastly… Expression is a beta… so some things won’t work.  Looks like youv’e found a bug, please report it!

    No bribes here… and I thought Apple killed off the Fish PC :-)  http://www.theapplecollection.com/iMac/iStore/FishPC.html

  21. Jeff Headley says:

    Dear Rather Not,

    To quote you, "…when I last checked there was not a single item on the agenda of Tech.ED regarding the Expression suite of products." I wonder if it’s sneaking in within other sessions?

    For example Charles Stirling is including a demo on Expression within his presentation at the Adelaide .NET Users Group Wednesday night   (http://blogs.msdn.com/dglover/archive/2006/07/10/660877.aspx) and again the next day in the Microsoft roadshow.  (With Frank away for a fortnight, I hope this gets posted in time for this comment to be relevant)

    "Expression products don’t really have foot in both world btw…" I agree if you’re referring to the print and online worlds. I was describing the Interactive Designer straddling the Creative and Programming worlds to make online content. The Expression products have little more to do with the print world than Flash does.

    Print sits still. Web (inc mobile) tied to data sources moves and interacts.

    Do you know anyone who does code brilliantly and design brillantly? Frank heads a team that loves code, but now he wants to reach out to the design community with these new products. The challenge for his programming team and the new person? "As I said… understand your audience!!!"

    To me Expression’s core pitch is to the design team that wants to marry its creative skills with the best that .NET programming can offer. You can’t do this as easily or smoothly in Adobe products.

    But you’d know that knee-jerk reaction of many creative people is "I don’t want to write lots of code." You captured that when you wrote "Understand your target audience. (I know this is a duh point but I think we are all sometimes guilty of getting caught up in our own little worlds.)" Why should a designer who is making a good living with their existing set of talents want to take on different skills?

    Isn’t that why they already have someone on their team who is writing code? Their team could benefit from VISTA and Expression, but how can MS turn that message into market share? Your advice was half the battle: "Start looking to evangelise outside of the audiences you readily have access to."

    The other half of the battle? Be like them to speak to them. You and I know that if Mac-bashing programmers come pitch this idea then the designers will shoot the messenger and turn off.

    If Frank hires a programmer to pitch this, and keeps showing it off at programmer’s events, he may convince other programmers while never reaching a design audience. If he hires a designer who barely programs .NET that won’t go anywhere. If the candidate is enough of a programmer to make programmers comfortable, will they be enough of a designer to make designers comfortable?

    How will they respond to this challenge? Should we watch this space to see…?

    If you want to connect in future outside this forum you can reach me at jeff@headley.com and if you and 2 Cents tell me you want to connect during TechEd I’m happy to make an introduction.

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