Microsoft has unveiled a newly developed suite of graphics tools that focus on web and application development.
The Expression suite comprises Acrylic Interactive Designer for graphic design, Sparkle Interactive Designer for designing user interfaces, and Quartz Web Designer for designing web pages.
The new applications aim to erode the borders between graphic designers and software developers.
David Treadwell, a Microsoft corporate vice president, told delegates at the Professional Developer Conference in Los Angeles that these borders can inhibit the development of user friendly applications.
"Historically it's been difficult for designers and developers to work together," he said. "The Expression product does a lot to make it easier."
The software is based on an identically named suite from Creature House, a Hong Kong company acquired by Microsoft in 2003.
Although Microsoft did not go into detail about enhancements to the suite, it did say that the picture editor offers a technology developed by Microsoft Research to isolate a portion of an image through the use of a lasso tool.
The applications are a potential competitor for Adobe's graphics products, including Dreamweaver and Photoshop.
Microsoft also unveiled its new Windows Workflow Foundation that is part of the WinFX programming model for Windows Vista.
The technology gives software developers a visual tool to route documents and tasks inside their organisation, ensuring that the appropriate staff are informed about business tasks including new orders and bug reports.
Microsoft will allow developers to add support for the technology into their own applications, and plans to build in support for the workflow tool into the forthcoming Office 12, Biztalk Server and Microsoft Dynamics.
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