Microsoft Expression Web which previously known as Microsoft Expression Web Designer (still been identified as Expression Web Designer in the beta) and coded-name “Quartz” is a professional web design tool that is in direct competition with Macromedia (Adobe) Dreamweaver and other web development HTML editors. Microsoft Expression Web will also replace Microsoft FrontPage, which is part of Microsoft Office System and has largely been reincarnated as Microsoft SharePoint Designer. Microsoft Expression Web is part of Expression family lineup, which also includes graphical design tool Expression Graphic and application interface designer Expression Interactive Designer.

Main features of Expression Web include standards compliance, CSS-based (Cascading Style Sheets) layout, CSS formatting, XHTML 1.0 Transitional conformant support, WYSIWYG XSLT design tools, rich data presentation, easy RSS feeds integration, ASP.Net 2.0 server technology and some features that relied on FrontPage Server Extensions have been removed.

ABC News (dead link) reviews Microsoft Expression Web beta and concludes that “even as a beta product, Expressions Web is a powerful, flexible, and highly-polished tool. Among knowledgeable designers, it’s likely to become one of the top two choices, and will take away many loyalists from Dreamweaver. I’m not quite ready to give it the Editors’ Choice yet, but it will be an obvious contender when it comes out of beta. If you know what you’re doing, this is a breathtakingly powerful product, and I only wish it could include a bit more of the late lamented FrontPage’s handholding for beginners.”

informit compares Microsoft Expression Web with Dreamweaver and concludes that with Adobe dominating the professional design market since absorbing Macromedia, Microsoft is a little fry in the world of professional design. If Microsoft (a) offers a Mac version of Web Designer and (b) continues to provide Expression at no cost; then Adobe could be scrambling to innovate and stay ahead. If neither (a) nor (b) occurs very soon, Microsoft will still have a formidable hill to climb. Web Designer is good enough, however, to get in the ring with Dreamweaver. And it’s only in beta.

Microsoft Expression Web (Beta 1) available for free download from Free Trial page (Microsoft Expression Web is now RTMed and has free version available). Microsoft Expression Web needs Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 which can be downloaded on the same page, and it will run on Microsoft Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2003 SP1.