Expression Studio 2 RTMs today!

Last year the Microsoft Expression team shipped a new suite of tools for creative professionals. This first release of Expression Studio marked a significant milestone in the history of development tools at Microsoft, delivering superior designer-developer workflow and providing designers a set of interaction design, graphic design, Web design, digital asset management and video production tools to deliver better user experiences on Windows and the Web.

I am pleased to announce, just one year later, the team has done it again with today’s release of Microsoft Expression Studio 2.

I wrote about the beta release of Expression Studio 2 announced earlier this year at MIX08.  Since then, the team has put the final touches on  Expression Web, Expression BlendExpression Design, Expression Media, and Expression Encoder delivering over 100 new features ranging from support for Silverlight, .NET Framework, Office 2007, and Office for Mac 2008 to PHP and Adobe Photoshop import capabilities. You can learn more about the latest Expression Studio features here.

With Expression Studio, designers can do some pretty amazing things with unprecedented levels of productivity.  Also, the seamless integration between Expression Studio and Visual Studio 2008 (and Visual Studio 2005) allows unparalleled collaboration between designers and developers.  Microsoft partner and customer examples can be found in the Silverlight Showcase and the Expression Gallery.

I am also very passionate about investing in future generations of designers and developers and enabling them to have friction-free access to technology.  One program I am really excited about is Microsoft DreamSpark which provides millions of students around the world free access to Microsoft products like Expression to help them on their path to becoming tomorrow’s technology leaders.

Additionally, we are introducing the Expression Professional Subscription, a premium product for professional designers that complements the MSDN Subscription for developers.

You can download fully-functional, 30-day trials for each Expression product on the main Expression site.  I encourage you to send us your feedback and suggestions by joining the Expression Community which is actively monitored by members of the Expression team.


Comments (41)

  1. Tom says:

    I’m personally disappointed that the higher-tier Expression editions are excluded from the premium MSDN subscriptions. When I started by MSDN subscription, it was called "Universal" to mean all-inclusive. More and more, my subscription, which actually costs more now than it did in the past, includes less and less. I think this is a bad trend.

  2. Nate says:

    Sounds great, but I’d really like to get Design as part of my MSDN Team Edition for Software Developers. I appreciate the new Subscription, but I’m in the middle!!! I need TFS for Software Developers WITH Design. I am a developer/designer. I know this has been brought up here before, but just bringing it up again. Don’t see why Expression Studio isn’t in that SKU.

  3. Andrew says:

    These are great products! A good toolset is crucial to getting the best out of WPF and Silverlight 2. As a small independent developer (not a designer) I find blend   invaluable and have been using design in beta more and more.

    I have a VSTS Developer subscription and would like to know if blend 2, and 2.5 (when released) would be included?

    Similarly will VSTS Team Suite continue to include Expression Studio?

    I too share Tom’s disappointment with the perceived value of the premium subscriptions and have observed with some dismay the increased value of the VS Professional subscription by comparison, and the additions to VSTS team Suite and yet the developer role sku now looks very unattractive and even more so if the Exprssion Suite is excluded. I purchased this on a 3 year ovla and am now wishing to change.

    Appreciate your feedback.

  4. Last year the Microsoft Expression team shipped a new suite of tools for creative professionals. This

  5. Very excited about the great new stuff that the Expression team is now shipping.  Another great

  6. vesuvius says:

    My biggest dismay is the unavailability for an Express version for the Studio Suite, or any announcement promulgating as much.

    Just like Visual Studio Express, you need to lower the entry bar for enthusiasts, and make these tools available for novices, that don’t have hundreds of dollars to pay for something they have just started to learn.

  7. keiths says:

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment on this announcement. Your feedback is very valuable and I wanted to take a moment to let you know we are listening.

    We recognize the tremendous interest in the Microsoft Expression product line within the existing MSDN subscriber community and have included Expression tooling in the premium MSDN subscription levels as a result.

    To review:

    – Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Suite with MSDN Premium includes Expression Studio.

    – All other MSDN Premium levels include Expression Web and Expression Blend.

    Developers with design responsibilities want access to Expression just as designers with development responsibilities want access to Visual Studio. We provide tooling for each group with the MSDN subscription levels above–for developers who do design–and the new Expression Professional Subscription–for designers who do development.

    Which Expression products are included in each MSDN subscription level is a business decision reflecting our desire to continue meeting the needs of professional developers while delivering an "MSDN for Designers" option that appeals directly (and uniquely) to professional designers.

    In response to earlier comments:


    We have in fact added value to the top MSDN subscription level by including the entire Expression Studio. We have also added value to the Team Edition and VS Pro + MSDN Premium subscription levels by including both Expression Web and Expression Blend.


    Thanks for the feedback. You’re correct in that we don’t have an option for you today since you are unable to purchase Expression Design separately. We will continue to monitor interest in Expression Design as a standalone product and revisit based on customer feedback like yours.


    Yes, Visual Studio Team System 2008 Development Edition with MSDN Premium will include Expression Blend 2. All Blend 2 customers will receive Blend 2.5 for free when it ships. Also, VSTS Team Suite will continue to include Expression Studio as noted above.


    Express versions of our design tools is something we are factoring into our plans but Expression is only in its second release. The VS Express editions took four VS releases (6.0, 2002, 2003, 2005) to arrive.

    Currently, we are focused on providing professional designers an integrated set of tools and improved workflow beyond anything that exists today. However, we are still committed to enthusiasts and those just starting out in design as evident by Popfly and programs such as DreamSpark.


    Keith Smith

    Director of Product Management

    Microsoft Expression

  8. Daniel Carey says:

    Thanks for continuing the inclusion of Expression Studio with Visual Studio Team System 2008 Team Suite. Writing software in a ‘one team shop" makes me very dependant on time saving tools. I have to consider the time it takes to learn a new technology and the time it takes to implement said technology; Counterweighted with the return on investment. I’m finding that Expression Blend helps hide the learning curve but when I start “branching out” my needs, there’s a piece from one of the other expression studio  pieces that help fill a gap (example: new assets build from expression design). Please keep considering that Visual Studio Team Suite is the staple for some of us who wear ‘many hats’.

    Best regards,

  9. anonymous says:

    Will it be available on DreamSpark?

  10. Nate says:

    Thanks for the reply, Keith.

    My preference would be to include Expression Studio in Team Suite For Software Developers. I didn’t need the entire Team Suite. I am a one man shop as Daniel put it. However, I don’t require the Database and Testing tools included in Team Suite Edition. Expression belongs at LEAST at that level. And for the past year I’ve had to sit on the sidelines because I’ve had no way to access Design without paying a ridiculous about of money for other things I don’t need. I think this was a mistake from the beginning.

    I’ve paid the prices and should be provided all the tools I need to develop WPF applications as a designer/developer in my Team Suite for Software Developers subscription.

  11. MIchael McGuire says:

    My subscription is listed as "Visual Studio Team Suite"  I don’t see anything about "MSDN Premium" or any other wordage.  Does this mean I will have access to Expression Studio?

    Right now, when I do a search on Expression, I get a return for Blend, Web and Studio.  However, when I go into Studio, there are no downloads available, but there is a Product Key.  Would I use this with the trial version to download?  Also, when are version 2 going to be made available in MSDN (everything available appears to be version 1 right now).

  12. Hello Keith,

    I’d also like to know if you plan to make Expression Studio 2 available through the DreamSpark program. I installed the trial version and it looks great.

    Thank you for answering our questions—it’s good to know someone’s listening.


  13. Andrew says:

    Keith thanks for the reply.

    It is great that Blend upgrades will be continue to be included.

    The Dev edition looks more and more unattractive by the day compared to the other MSDN Premium levels for a one man shop such as myself as Blend is included in both.

    Expression design is a must for WPF as is Expression Media and Encoder for Silverlight work. Expression Web adds no value for me personally as VS2008 is so strong in this area.

    I am faced with either upgrading to VSTS Team Suite or downgrading to VS Professional and buying the new Professional Expression subscription, whichever is likely to be the most cost effective. Not something I expected when I bought the Sku over 2 years ago on a 3yr OVLA. (When I purchased this the lower versions omitted Tools for Office).

    Hopefully the product bundling can be reviewed.

  14. Somasegar says:

    Yes – Expression Studio 2 will be available via the DreamSpark program for students.


  15. Andy says:

    The much lower level subscription to the Microsoft Action Pack with the included Web Solutions Toolkit includes the Expression Studio.  Obviously they have a better standing when it comes to Expression!!

  16. keiths says:


    Yes, you have MSDN Premium. Use the product key listed to activate the v1 trials on v2 product keys are coming soon. Go ahead and download the fully-functional, 30-day v2 trials to get started today and activate later.

  17. keiths says:


    Microsoft Action Pack subscriptions are available only to registered members of the Microsoft Partner Program. We value our partners and offer them such benefits accordingly.

  18. Andrew says:


    Following Andy’s comment above I have looked into MAPs and the ongoing cost would appear to be GBP200 at the basic registration level of registered member, compared to 4 times this for VSTS Dev and yet one qualifies for the free Web Solns Toolkit (which includes Expression Suite toolkit albeit after completing an assessment) and the other does not.  

    Although unintentional I am sure your reply to Andy implies lesser value being placed on my continued financial commitment. Whilst I can see your value argument for Certified and Gold Partners, for the "one man shop" VSTS Dev is the greater commitment.

    What sort of ROI does this represent by comparison for me? It places me at a competitive disadvantage.

    Surely this needs review.

  19. Nate says:

    Well put, Andrew.

    This certainly needs review. This isn’t the only group of people in the same boat. Reading Somasegar’s past blogs on this same topic will show you a greater number of developers with a Developer subscription wanting access to Expression Studio.

  20. keiths says:

    Microsoft values both its customers and partners, of course. A company that doesn’t value its customers won’t stay in business very long. However, partner and customer groups differ in significant ways. For instance, the majority of partners are also customers while few customers align themselves with Microsoft to expand the ecosystem like partners.


    Becoming a partner is not really about getting access to software. There are expectations of partners that offset the benefits they receive. With that said, what prevents you from becoming a registered partner to gain access to Expression Studio, and other Microsoft products, via the action pack?


    Developers with subscriptions without Expression Studio can get it. With an ERP of $699, Expression Studio 2 is priced competitively and delivers enough differentiated value, across five products, to justify the cost.

    I understand you don’t want to pay more than you absolutely have to, however, you are an MSDN subscriber which suggests you are willing to pay for continued access to products that deliver value to your business. It seems you want access to the Expression suite because it would be valuable in helping you create new business. Does that value and new business not justify the expense?


  21. Andrew says:

    Hi Keith,

    Thanks for your time in addressing our points. In answer to your last question:

    Yes there is value in the Expression Studio which does justify some outlay. To reiterate this is a superb product and hence the interest in it!

    The problem is the current bundling options are driving “one man shop” customers like me away from VSTS Developer  w/Msdn premium as it is no longer sufficiently differentiated from the other lower Msdn premium offerings and so not worth the additioanl outlay.  (As mentioned above this was not the case when I originally took out my subscription as Tools for Office were not in the lower offerings.)

    I am evaluating the business case for becoming a registered partner to gain access to Expression Studio via the action pack but I already have access to the other products via my Msdn subscription and there are other expectations which have a time cost which have to be factored in.

    So as I see it this boils down:

    a) to a saving by switching from VSTS Dev w/msdn premium to VSProfl w/msdn premium offset by:

    b) Additional outlay for either Expression Studio, or Expression Professional subscription or, the Action Pack route.


    c) upgrade to VSTS Team Suite


    d) the Action Pack route and not renew VSTS Dev w/Msdn –  savings on the latter offset by meeting expectations on the former

    There is a disparity here.

    What is the upgrade pricing for Expression Professional Subscription for msdn premium customers?

  22. Nate says:

    Sure there is value to Expression. That’s why I want it.

    BUT — Why would I pay for Expression Studio when I get 2/3 of the applications I need to do my job through my current MSDN subscription. That makes NO sense. Design is the missing piece for me. You’ve already given me Blend and Web (though, web is pretty useless for me with VS 2008) so you recognize these are developer tools. Of course they are. But why try and separate it for current MSDN premium subscribers?

    This is the last post I’m making on this topic. It’s frustrating and infuriating that you would try and make me pay more for developer tools that should already be included in my subscription. What is the end result for the Expression team? Is it really that big of a deal to include Studio with these MSDN packages?

    The thing that I respect about situations like these is that typically, they’ll change. A few MSDN subscribers ask "why?" and internally Microsoft eventually ends up saying "sure!" But the hold-out of Expression has been going on much longer. Why won’t you just see what is right and what is fair? Again — these are DEVELOPER tools. What the hell?

  23. says:

    When will the Expression Studio 2 be available through DreamSpark?  I have been looking at the site over the past few days and I have not seen it.

  24. Andy says:


    Thank you for your comments relating to Web Solution Kit being available to Registered Partners on not to customers.  I was referring to Certified Partners (who pay much higher than the lower level Registered Partners), and they do not get the Expression Studio.

    My question is why do Registered Partner get access to Expression Studio but Certified Partners only get access to Blend & Web via MSDN Subscriptions?  Plus Certified Partner cannot also be Registered Partners as well as it is not open to them.  Is this an oversight on the part of Microsoft?

  25. Andy says:


    I remember the days of Windows NT 3 (in the days Novel Netware was king!!) when Microsoft would give away their OS to Partners Briefings and the days & years after that when Microsoft would make it very easy & a lot cheaper for Partners to get access to it’s software.

    Are Certified Partner no longer the flavor of the month (& Registered Partner are) or am I missing something here?

    Having being involved in the Certified Partner program for such a long time, I just think not including Expression Studio for Certified Partners ( & MSDN Subscribers) just does not seem like Microsoft.  You say you value your partners & customers, then say it with action.  You know the old saying "Action speak louder than .."

  26. Overshadowed by the Microsoft Yahoo takeover soap opera last week, Microsoft released version 2 of its Expression Studio collection of Web tools: Expression Web 2 for Web design Expression Blend 2 for multimedia and 3-D design Expression Design 2…

  27. keiths says:


    "What is the upgrade pricing for Expression Professional Subscription for msdn premium customers?"

    There currently is not upgrade path between the subscriptions. They are independent.


    "Why would I pay for Expression Studio when I get 2/3 of the applications I need to do my job…you recognize these are developer tools."

    Expression Design is not a developer tool. Neither is Web or Blend (or Media or Encoder) for that matter. However, there are developers, like yourself, who do design and want to use the Expression products. This is similar to developers who do architecture upgrading to the Team Suite with MSDN Premium to access both sets of tools.


    The Microsoft Action Pack helps smaller partners, which typically have more hybrid roles and fewer dedicated teams, get started. As you know, Certified Partners & Gold Certified Partners are typically larger organizations with dedicated development teams and are eligible for between 5-100 licenses of VS Pro with MSDN Premium–depending on their partnership level and org size. While the MSDN Premium subscription levels *only* include Blend and Web, the number of licenses makes the software benefit extremely valuable to those larger partners.

    With that said, we are considering adding Expression Studio 2 to the Certified and/or Gold Certified software benefits. Is it safe to assume I have your vote to make this happen? No promises, of course. 😉

  28. keiths says:


    Expression Studio 2 will be available through DreamSpark in the next few weeks.

  29. Vince says:

    It is really annoying that Microsoft/MSDN Team Suite does not include licensing for Expression Studio 2. We renewed our MVL licensing for 3 more years to the tune of 150K+ and we’re getting "nickle and dimed" to license the Expression Suite because it has designer tools? The restructuring of the MSDN program is a complete disaster from both a user and a reseller perspective.

    I should have our legal department file for a credit for all the Vista licenses that we paid for that we’ll never use.

    I know of one check that I won’t be authorizing when it’s up for renewal again.  The return on this investment has been dismal at best.

    CTO in NYC

  30. [原文地址]: Expression Studio 2 RTMs today! [原文发表时间]:Thursday, May 01, 2008 11:01 AM 去 年 , Microsoft Expression

  31. Andrew says:

    Keith, thanks for your last reply regarding Professional Expression Sub (PSE) and no special pricing for TS Dev role  with MSDN Prem. I trust this is up for review.

    I am still looking to buy ES, and have ruled out the Action Pack option, the PSE above is too expensive and not available in the UK anyway yet!

    Expression Studio 2 has upgrade pricing so does this also exist for a  purchasing under a 3 year open value agreement with software assurance. My UK Volume License seller is looking into this but it seems only the full price is available. If so this is a show stopper.

    Can you please clarify?


  32. keiths says:

    Hi Andrew,

    The Expression Professional Subscription (EPS) is the Software Assurance (SA) option for Expression Studio going forward. Customers who want to buy the entire Studio with SA will need to purchase EPS instead.

    However, since you are a TS Dev + MSDN Premium subscriber you already have access to Expression Blend and Expression Web. From your earlier comments, the one Expression tool you need that is not included in your MSDN Premium level is Expression Design. In that case, I recommend you purchase Expression Design individually under open value with SA. That way you complement Blend and Web that you already have and pay the minimum for what you need that is not included.

  33. Andrew Waters says:

    Hi Keith,

    Thanks for the quick response – ok I will talk with my reseller about this, I thought design was only available bundled with Studio.

    I am also exploring Silverlight so Encoder will be useful so I am guessing I get this also with SA.

    Any idea of costs for design under open value with SA?

  34. keiths says:


    Yes, all Expression products, including Encoder, are available standalone under Open Value.

    I suggest consulting your local reseller for the exact cost to meet your specific licensing needs. Let me know if you encounter any problems–use the "Email" link at the top of my blog.

  35. SelArom says:

    I notice that design 2 is still not available as a standalone. is this not going to happen? buying the suite would be a waste because since I have vs2008 I don’t need web. all I need is design, and maybe blend later on but I’ll never need web I don’t think…

    also I still don’t see version TWO of expression in dreamspark….

  36. Colin says:

    Get Expression Studio for just $400 a year with two refreshes a year!!

    Partners at the registered level can now get a Microsoft Action Pack (Vista+Office for 10 people + Major servers) AND Expression Studio for just $400 (varies by country) a year as non-perpertual licenses.

    This can be done by purchasing a Microsoft Action Pack Subscription with the Web Solutions Toolkit.  To qualify for the MAPS you need to take a single free online assessment (from a list of several)  and score > 75%.  If you take one that falls under the list for Web Solution Providers, and score over 70%, you also qualify (and stay qualified for two years) to get the Web Solutions Toolkit – so yes, one assessment > 75% qualifies you for both.

    MAPS gives you four deliveries a year.

    The Web Solutions Toolkit is refreshed twice a year.

    See for contents of the MAPS and the Web Solutions Toolkit.


    Once you become a partner at the Certified or Gold level you can no-longer have a MAPS.  This means you are now paying around $2000 a year (which is amazing value for what you do get particularly if at the Gold level), but you now only get Expressoin Web & Blend.  If you want Design, etc., you’ll have to buy the full Studio for $699 (or upgrade from other products and I don’t think your non-perpetual license counts).

    While MS does provide tools for devs who design and designers who dev, the real point is that there’s no easy upgrade path to complete the set from either direction without buying seperate full licenses.   A VS Pro+Premium subscriber (or a Certified or Gold Partner) has to  outright buy Expression Studio (because only VSTS Team Suite comes with Studio).  An Expression Studio license owner going to VS Pro has to get a full copy too, and you certainly wouldn’t want to be a Expressoin Pro subscriber wanting VS Pro because you will be spending a fortune yearly.  Since you can upgrade Expression Studio for $349 for one upgrade a year, I’d tend to go with a VS edition + subscription and then add on Expressoin Studio and upgrade that as necessary.

    This lack of an upgrade path to ‘complete the full package’ also occurs for Partners that want to upgrade to VSTS Team Suite, and this has not been visibly solved since 2005 came out and I remember had lenghy calls with various Program Managers on the subject.

  37. Just another vote/comment in support of including Expression Design in the MSDN availability for Gold Partners.  

    We currently use Adobe for our design needs, but it would be interesting to try Expression for a while to see if it adds value.  But at comparable costs to Adobe, there’s no chance of us switching.  

  38. BrianS says:


    Thank you for your posting regarding the Microsoft Action Pack and how to get Expression Studio 2 for $400 per year.  As you rightly pointed out, there was an issue with MAPS partners moving to either the Certified or Gold Certified level and availability of Expression products.  Namely, Certified or Gold Certified partners could access Expression Blend and Web (not Expression Studio) via MSDN Premium subscriptions provided as a partner benefit.

    I’m very pleased to announce the options are improving.

    As of this month, Expression Studio is now a benefit for MSPP Certified and Gold Certified partners.  The studio is being provided in the quarterly media shipments, starting with the latest October shipment (new subscribers will receive Expression Studio via the Welcome Kit).

    The inclusion of Expression Studio was mentioned in recent MSPP announcements.  Additionally, we’re in the process of updating the partner benefit portal, which should be revised by the end of the month (

    We believe this recent change will help improve Expression product availability to partners and remove a potential barrier to those organizations considering moving up from the MAPS level.


    Brian Saab

    Business Manager

    Microsoft Expression

  39. Colin says:


    That’s some very welcome news for those concerned about paying extra for Expression Studio on the path from Registered to Certified/Gold.

    To be honest, I tend to gloss over the partner newsletters – I’d rather have an RSS feed.  The partner site is a bit of a mindfield in terms of not being up to date (as I checked software benefits just last week), having obscure URLs and pages with no breadcrumb route to relocate them.

    I manually checked for follow up on this post and I’m impressed that you picked up on my recent comment on this May post.

  40. Luke says:


    Do you have any idea when the MSDN portal will be updated to allow Expression Studio to be downloaded.  I do not receive the monthly mailings as these are usually a waste and I prefer to download.

    The MDSN portal is still showing "Available to Levels: Developer AA; Designer AA; VSTS Suite (VL); VSTS Suite (Retail); BizSpark Startup Administrator; BizSpark Startup Member; " for Expression Studio.


  41. Brian Saab says:

    Glad to see the change to MSPP benefit to include Expression Studio is being well received.

    I believe it’s important to clarify that this policy change is for the MSPP program rather than a change to MSDN subscription benefits.  Therefore, the inclusion of Expression Studio is reflected in availability in the MSPP quarterly media shipments.  This also means there is no change to MSDN subscriptions, even those offered to MSPP partners, to include Expression Studio at levels other than MSDN VSTS.  

    The important issue to recognize is a change to Partner benefits cannot cascade into an change in MSDN subscription benefits.  There are many more MSDN subscribers as compared to MSPP partners, and we’re attempting to ensure this particular change is available only to partners.

    I hope this clarification helps.


    Brian Saab

    Business Manager

    Microsoft Expression