Expression 3: Vector drawing application available for download

As others have pointed out, Microsoft has made available a free download of Expression 3, apparently acquired from Creature House. My first impression, having only played with it during breakfast and lunch, is that it's a very cool app. It has a standard, user-friendly palette-based UI with a few interesting quirks -- a good antidote to applications such as Digital Image Pro that favor a more “Inductive UI” style approach. 😉

From reading the comments on Tim's blog I now notice that a note on the download web page implies it's for existing customers. When you install, the EULA doesn't say anything extraordinary, although it does call it a “Preview”, and there's a non-intrusive “Preview” watermark in the MDI client area. Until we hear more official communication, draw your own conclusions I suppose. (Or paint them using MS Paint, but that would just be a bad pun.)

On a side note, I'm a bit puzzled by how schizophrenic Microsoft has been in the graphics space. We built and discontinued Image Composer, Photo Draw, and Photo Draw 2000, and created Digital Image Pro, Picture It, and various image manipulation and drawing features in apps like Office and Visual Studio. We also bought Visio, and bought and sold SoftImage. Of course, there's MS Paint. And rumors about Sparkle. Am I missing any?

Comments (3)

  1. David Candy says:

    You missed all the WinG based bitmap editors and Offices Photo Editor. There was also a Dos paint program too.

    The WinG were programming samples and did far better colour reduction than Paint. Paint is my main editor but there has always been an absense of wmf editors. Not one I can think of. I only used Coral Draw 3.0 to turn things into wmf via it’s trace and save as. Then I wrote a word macro to make wmf files from the clipboard data.

    I looked at the expression page a few days ago and it was 50 megs and no point trying.

    I liked IC, PE, Paint. The others are all crap. With PD one was too scared to move the mouse as it might force a long and slow redraw. Which is wht the upograde was given away (on dial up so noone got it).

    What did and does MS have against vector based graphics based on windows internal formats. I use paint for icon type and screenshots, programming type stuff.

    For corporate logos and magazines one uses vector graphics. But windows has always been anti vector, office which was vector gave no way of saving your files. Bizarre.

  2. David, don’t forget MS Draw 98 ( If I recall correctly, this was a standalone app that allowed you to use the Office drawing tools. It only seems to work with Office 97, so I didn’t try it.

    Overall, I don’t think we’ve been "anti-vector"; there just hasn’t been any serious effort made in this space. I can’t with a straight face say that we’ve put a *serious* effort into bitmap paint programs either, although the products are useful for a certain segment of consumers.

    PD probably had the most innovative ideas, but as you mention it had perf issues and didn’t seem to catch on very well.

    Third party products have filled the gap, although often they’re pretty expensive.

  3. Satya says:


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