Microsoft may be facing the same kind of dominance it owns on the desktop as it looks to further draw developers to its latest software for graphic design and animation, where Adobe and Macromedia own the bulk of the market.
However, industry observers are quick to point out the benefits of Microsoft’s integration of design software with its operating system and applications. The software giant and its resources are significant whenever the company enters a market, they say.
“You have the skeptics saying, ‘OK, they’re taking on Adobe and Macromedia,’ which are pretty known in the space,” Yankee Group senior analyst Laura DiDio told TechNewsWorld. “[Microsoft] faces stiff competition there, but it’s still Microsoft. Anytime they show up in a market, you have to take them seriously.”
All But the Kitchen Sink
At its own developer conference this week, Microsoft announced its Expression family of Web design tools, which include: a painting, illustration and effects tool called Acrylic Graphic Designer; a user-interface design tool for modern application development dubbed Sparkle Interactive Designer; and the Quartz Web Designer, a layout and design tool for creating Web sites.
“Our goal is to redefine what is considered a ‘good enough’ user experience today through integrated development and design capability,” Microsoft Vice President of Servers and Tools Eric Rudder said in a statement.
The company indicated its design software would help promote more design during development of software applications.
“New tools that make it easier to integrate design into the development process can help correct this problem, making it easier for development teams to create richer, more usable user interfaces,” said a statement from Forrester senior analyst Kerry Bodine.
Bodine told TechNewsWorld the new design tools represent Microsoft’s first strong effort in the area of Web and graphics design, adding that the company has some interesting ideas that underlie the tools. For instance, all of the design tools center on XML products, which allows designers and developers to come together.
Bodine noted that Microsoft faces an entrenched player because Adobe has had “a long time to bake” its own graphics design applications. In addition, Microsoft “is not known for hitting it out of the park on the first try.”
Nevertheless, the analyst added Adobe and Macromedia “should be concerned” about their new competitor.
Best and Brightest
Yankee Group’s DiDio reiterated the point, referring to Microsoft’s acquisition of small, sometimes one-man design companies, a strategy that competitors Adobe and Macromedia are also employing.
“They are getting better on tools and things, and they can afford the best and the brightest,” DiDio said of Microsoft. “They’re one of the few companies that has not had layoffs.”
DiDio stated that the move is mandatory for Microsoft, as it seeks to build value into existing customers and attract others with “the one-stop shop” selling point.
“They clearly want to expand and enhance their existing developer environment and they have a big stake in Web services,” she said.