(Ed. Note: The new sites are being propped and updated as we speak, but getting this out ASAP.)
Today I’m excited to finally be able to talk about a new project I’ve been working on—“WPF/E”. As some of you know, I spent the last year working on End to End User Experiences, specifically with Windows Vista digital media efforts and devices. This was an amazingly fun and rewarding job, but when all the product work was done (some yet to be announced <g>), it was time to turn my attention to the next challenge. It was about that time that I was made aware of another opportunity that was too interesting to resist.
(My) Introduction to “WPF/E” (codename)
About a year ago, I heard of an intriguing new project codenamed, “WPF/E” or “Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere”. Announced at the PDC 2005, “WPF/E” is a key part of the next-generation Web platform from Microsoft. I was intrigued and continued to track progress. Designed to be delivered as a lightweight, cross-platform browser plug-in, the “WPF/E” client is optimized for presenting rich media such as vector-based graphics, animation, and video content efficiently over the Web. Microsoft releasing a cross-platform technology?! Readers here know I own a few Macs (one PPC, two Intel-based) and I had to pinch myself. More importantly I had to be a part of this effort, and I’m excited to say that not only am I a part of the team delivering the technology, we’re making it available to you starting today as a Community Technology Preview (CTP) for evaluation and feedback. Together with Microsoft Expression Studio also just announced, it’s a goodie bag of toys for designers, developers, and content providers to collaborate on delivering next-generation web experiences and we’re just getting started. (By the way, the codename is a temporary thing, with a much more simplifed one TBA).
Rich web media, simplified with “WPF/E”
Of course, being “Addicted to Digital Media”, there are certain features which led me to join the team. The “WPF/E“ December CTP also includes support for playback of Windows Media Audio and Video, enabling delivery of rich audio and video integrated with graphical overlays, dynamic resizing, and marker support for interactivity. Customers have been asking for a simple way to embed Windows Media (and VC-1) files and streams organically on web pages for cross-platform playback. With “WPF/E” they’ll be able to do it (starting with eval’ing progressive download support in the CTP and content protection is on the roadmap). With “WPF/E” we’re finding new ways to tap into the broad ecosystem of content, tools, and solutions for Windows Media and make it easier. And for standards-fans, common profiles of the SMPTE standard VC-1 codec are also supported in this release (that’s the same one that ships in all HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players in case you’re keeping count). Naturally for the Web, standard-definition quality will reign in the near term, but the platform is capable of HD delivery ;),
Introducing Expression Studio
Today, Microsoft also made a number of announcements focused on delivering tools and platforms for delivering rich user experiences (UX) in Windows and on the Web. The first was an announcement around Expression Studio, a suite of four tools focused on bridging the designer/developer gap that exists today in most development houses. Using the Expression suite, whatever a designer can visualize and be implemented by developers using .Net Framework 3.0 and Windows Presentation Foundation. As a program manager, I’ve witnessed first-hand the tension that exists between the designer who creates phenomenal concepts that the developer just can’t code behind. These tools will also be optimized to support “WPF/E”. I’ve seen upcoming applications built using these tools over the past few months (you’ll get to see some of them soon) and it really takes desktop app development (and soon, web development) to a new level.
Also simplified is the encoding and publishing of content via the new product in the Expression suite is the just announced, Expression Media. Based on the iView Media Pro product acquired by Microsoft last summer, Expression Media is an update to the professional digital asset management tool to visually catalog and organize all your digital media (pics, fonts, sounds, videos etc.) for easy access and presentation. (And yes, we’ll still support Mac for asset management). For video publishers, it will also include a new tool for Windows – Microsoft Expression Media Encoder for encoding and publishing of video with “WPF/E” and beyond. For more on Expression Media and “WPF/E”, stay tuned. I’ve added a new category called, “Rich Media” so you can keep tabs on the topic. 😉
Also be sure to check out the blogs of my co-workers talking about “WPF/E” as well including our VP, S. “Soma” Somasegar:
- S. Somasegar – http://blogs.msdn.com/somasegar/
- Scott Guthrie – http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/
- Joe Stegman – http://blogs.msdn.com/jstegman/default.aspx
- James Clarke – http://www.clarkezone.net/
- Mike Harsh – http://blogs.msdn.com/mharsh/default.aspx
I’ll provide links to other team members shortly as they post more. We have a ton of interest in blogging from the team among members with designer, developer, and video production backgrounds.
So take a look at the resources, send us your suggestions, and come back here with questions. And while you’re at it, check out the just-relaunched sites at http://www.microsoft.com/expression and http://www.microsoft.com/design. J