Expression Web

Microsoft Abandons Expression Web and Front End Web Development

Microsoft abandons Expression Web and front end web development in favour of a Visual Studio / Blend hybrid

Today something major happened at Microsoft that will likely not be noted in the general tech media but will have a major impact on Microsoft’s influence over the web and web development. Microsoft is abandoning Expression Web – their only true front end web design and development application (IDE) – in favour of a Visual Studio / Blend hybrid. While this is no surprise, it is disheartening to see Microsoft write off front end developers in their misguided quest to make the web obsolete and replace it with Windows 8 apps. While the company is painting this as a move to consolidate and refine their web and app development toolkit, the message is loud and clear to anyone working as front end web developers: If you don’t make .NET and Windows 8 apps we have no interest in you.

Considering web publishers are moving aggressively towards more agile platforms, open standards, and content-centric solutions powered by Open Source languages, (1) this is a colossal step backwards and quite likely one Microsoft will never be able to recover from.

To put it in plain English: As of right now Microsoft no longer has a stake in the front end web development game.

Though Expression Web will live on as a “community supported” free application, no major updates will be released and it will die a sad and lonely death on the computers of fans like myself.

Expression Web and what could have been

If you’ve been following me for a while you may know that I have been using Expression Web to build websites and applications, and to build WordPress themes and plugins since the first beta of the application came out. I’ve also published four books, a video course, and countless tutorials on the use of Expression Web and its interaction with WordPress and other open source solutions.

What made Expression Web the best kept secret of the front end web development world was that the application put web standards front and center and was largely platform- and solution agnostic. Here was a true front end web design and development solution that handled PHP as well as it handled .NET, provided extensive coding support for everything from CSS3 to HTML5 to jQuery, and allowed you to do pretty much whatever you wanted regardless of whether what you wanted to do was based on a Microsoft coding language or not.

Expression Web has too many useful features to count, chief amongst them the seamless integration of advanced CSS tools that made it easy for novices and seasoned pros alike to build, dissect, troubleshoot, and publish standards based, future proof, and forward thinking CSS in a snap. I’ve made many a crowd gape in awe as I redesigned the CSS on the website on the fly at conferences, and I’ve found that Expression Web has been by far the best learning tool for design minded and oriented people who wanted to make sense of the complexities of HTML and CSS.

It’s personal

For me this is more than just the sad death of software that should have been at the top of the priority list for Microsoft. It is also the end of an era. As I said before, my involvement with Expression Web started in the very beginning while the application was still in Beta. In fact this blog, Design is Philosophy, was started to document my experiences using Expression Web. Because of my aggressive bug reporting and commenting I was contacted by the Expression Web development team soon thereafter and I became a beta tester for the application. Eventually I was given a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) award for my efforts and to date I have received that award four years running. My involvement with the Expression Web development team landed me a book deal, speaking engagements, and got me to the MIX conference in Las Vegas on two occasions. It also opened a whole new world of opportunity for me, so much so that I can honestly say that I owe much of my success to Expression Web and it’s chief creator Steven Guttman.

Through the years I have been heavily involved in beta testing of the many versions of Expression Web and there are features in the current application that could have my name on them. I used my influence to push the open source agenda and made every effort to help Microsoft understand they were sitting on a goldmine they refused to explore and the open source community understand what a useful application this really is. Now it turns out all those efforts were for naught.

End of an era

However much I feel this is a personal loss, it is nothing compared to what the crack team of designers and developers that made Expression Web what it was only to have it discarded by the mothership for political reasons must be feeling right now. The decision to scrap Expression Web is clearly one made by management with their heads buried deep in the river bed. The application was a shining light of what Microsoft could be – an open application focussed on real life work regardless of platform or product affinity. Sadly that path has now been closed in favour of laser sharp focus on pushing internal product even though the community is not interested. I would laugh at the lack of insight these corporate pencil pushers have, but that would trivialise what is endemic of a corporate culture of detachment and ideological dogma.

The writing has been on the door, in blood, for a year now and when confronted with the question of what Microsoft was envisioning for the future of web development in early 2012 the answer was loud and clear: For Microsoft, the web is dying and the future lies in Windows 8 apps. When asked what we web developers should be doing the answer was the same: Make Windows 8 apps. Which is about as useful as telling a contractor to start erecting tents instead of houses because houses are no longer relevant. Anyone outside the reach of whatever reality distorting force field they have running at the Redmond campus can see how idiotic this is, but that hasn’t stopped the people in charge for pulling the plug on one of the few applications from the company that had something new to offer.

I could be subtle about this, but seriously, you all know me too well for that. This is idiocy. Pure and simple.

RIP Expression Web. Your master never understood your value.

Maybe the Mayans got it right after all.

(1) In the original version of the article I stated somewhat vaguely that “.NET is seeing a sharp decline”. Thanks to some commenters I realize this statement was unclear and somewhat confusing. The sentence has been edited to reflect the original intended message, that a large majority of sites and content published on the web is being published using open source languages and platforms leaving closed solutions like Microsoft Stack applications languishing in the dust. See here for stats on Content Management Systems as an example. I realize I used the term “.NET” too loosely, thus the correction.

By Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Morten Rand-Hendriksen is a Senior Staff Instructor at LinkedIn Learning (formerly specializing in AI, bleeding edge web technologies, and the intersection between technology and humanity. He also occasionally teaches at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. He is a popular conference and workshop speaker on all things tech ethics, AI, web technologies, and open source.

44 replies on “Microsoft Abandons Expression Web and Front End Web Development”

Morten, Thanks for your support with EW over the years. Your lesson CD helped train our staff and we have been a follower of yours for some time.
The decision by MS to drop EW causes us to question MS dedication to their other products. Luckily I was able to stop our companies investment in other MS product. We will use alternative products when we can. If a supposed leader can not lead in this area then what other failures are on the horizon?

Thanks Bob. While I don’t think Microsoft’s abandonment of Expression Web is a reference to go by for the rest of their product lines, it is indicative of a corporate culture and philosophy that fosters top-down leadership and often finds itself disconnected from its users. While Expression Web was by far the more popular of the applications in the Expression Studio suite, and also the one with the biggest potential market reach, Microsoft never fully invested in the application. Instead they funnelled all their money and advertising efforts into Expression Blend which at first was built to support the now pretty much defunct Silverlight ecosystem and now is being revamped to create Windows 8 apps. The pattern here is that for Microsoft, getting people to use their proprietary service languages (.NET, WinJS, Silverlight) is more important than providing development software for the masses. It’s a business decision, I just don’t think it’s a wise one.

Why, oh why did you have to stain you post with the .Net hate?
Are you so ignorant and unwilling to see the picture?
Haven’t you heard the .Net developers’ outcry a year ago about MS moving the application development focus from .Net to HTML/JS/CSS? Haven’t you heard the angry Silverlight developers?
Steven Sinofsky who hated .Net made some heavy damage: he killed Silverlight (UI, design), WPF (UI, design), XNA (games) and tried to replace the open standards (C#, CLS) with cumbersome non-standard C++/CX and HTML/JS/CSS.
Now the Expression Studio is killed. And Again you seem to be blind. The loss of Expression Web is not as severe as the loss of the Expression Design which was a cool vector editor (with brushes) with XAML export.

Instead of writing straight post about MS killing the tools and rallying all developers (both web and .Net) to state their opinion, you’ve muddled the post with FUD, lies and misattributed hate.

I wish you an eternity designing/coding with PHP.

@Ark-kun: I don’t hate .NET. In fact I don’t mind it at all. What I don’t like is the many .NET users who can’t get it through their heads that .NET is not the be-all and end-all of web programming. That for many developers .NET is more of a hindrance than a help, and that on the web as a whole, other platforms have far more to say than .NET. My concern is that based on my significant exposure to the .NET community I know that faced with a situation in which Microsoft tries to move Visual Studio towards a more design centric or front end centric incarnation, the .NET dev community will turn up in droves to quash this move so they can keep their precious application to themselves.

Microsoft’s move towards HTML5, JS and CSS3 is a wise one, and the general discomfort many .NET developers have with this move says far more about them than it does about Microsoft. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that by ditching Expression Web they have taken away a tool that appealed to a whole different user group. There is little to no overlap between the VS users and the xWeb users for a reason: They are applications designed by different teams for different target audiences. This move, and the idea of moving xWeb users to VS, is a clear sign that the people in charge don’t understand the dichotomy of the industry.

As for the “FUD, lies, and attributed hate” I urge you to point to anything in the article that constitutes either of those. In particular I’d like to know where you found a lie considering everything in the article is based on fact.

And thanks for the eternity of coding in PHP. I love PHP and most if not all of my work is done in PHP, HTML5 and JS.

>many .NET users who can’t get it through their heads that .NET is not the be-all and end-all of web programming
1) .Net was never about web programming. It was about apps and services.
>That for many developers .NET is more of a hindrance than a help, and that on the web as a whole, other platforms have far more to say than .NET.
Nobody was ever forced to use .Net for anything. Less likely for web pages. Where did you get that unconventional idea?

>Microsoft tries to move Visual Studio towards a more design centric or front end centric incarnation, the .NET dev community will turn up in droves
Again, I don’t know what are you talking about. Show me. Good design is always welcome. Or are you talking about the error that even a rookie designer would never make – remove all important color information?

>Microsoft’s move towards HTML5, JS and CSS3 is a wise one
Why does anyone need MOVE anywhere? MS had always innovated in web technologies (AJAX, @font-face, etc.).
MS has supported “HTML apps” since Windows 95. I still remember making a auto-updating train schedule and putting it on my Active Desktop. Does any other OS support anything like that now?
MS needs to SUPPORT the web technologies not MOVE to them.
Also, nobody “moves” the core application framework to HTML. The general move is towards native code (iOS, Android, Chrome NativeClient, etc.)

>the general discomfort many .NET developers have with this move says far more about them than it does about Microsoft.
Here we go again… I really don’t see how you can be so clueless about all of this.
Ok. I’ll try to explain it in really simple terms.
Imagine that WordPress wold tell you that they are going to MOVE all websites to Twitter. All your posts would be truncated to 140 characters and submitted to Twitter (or worse yet, you have to do it yourself).
You’ve said you love PHP? How come? (Oh, the hypocrisy.) As you’ve already said, everything should be MOVED to HTML/JS. You should throw away all your PHP code and move to JS.

>They are applications designed by different teams for different target audiences.
I don’t see this, but it’s not really important.

>This move, and the idea of moving xWeb users to VS, is a clear sign that the people in charge don’t understand the dichotomy of the industry.
Yes, I agree. MS is making a bad move. Let’s stand against it as web developers that need the design tools. But please don’t drag your .Net grudges (along with Holocaust, C vs. LISP or anything else) into this. Keep thing separate.

>I love PHP
As much as I think that PHP is bad for industry, I think that everyone should have a choice and nobody should be forced to move anywhere or switch to anything. That’s the difference between us.

I wish the web was based on interoperable standards-based modular platforms. What we see now is quite different. And Microsoft has nothing to do with this.

>As for the “FUD, lies, and attributed hate” I urge you to point to anything in the article that constitutes either of those.
All irrelevant .Net bashing =)
“If you don’t make .NET and Windows 8 apps we have no interest in you” (MS focus was on C++ and HTML+JS, not .Net)
“.NET is seeing a sharp decline in favour of more agile development languages” A lie and a nonsense. .Net is not seeing a sharp decline. .Net is not a language. There are lot’s of agile .Net languages like Python, Ruby etc. There is Perl6 for which the main compiler (one of the two) is .Net-based. Hell, there is even PHP (which runs faster that the common implementation).

Just remove these childish stabs at .Net and the article would be perfect and more acceptable for the diverse community of the Expression users and designers.

I’d tell you one more inconvenient fact that you’ll surely twist your way and run with it:
You may think about Silverlight as a Microsoft’s try to replace the web technologies, but the reality turned out quite different.
The shocking truth is that Microsoft killed Silverlight because it was cross-platform and was “freeing” people from Windows. Silverlight was supported by Microsoft on Mac OS and by Mono on Linux. Silverlight apps communicated with HTML and JS in a standards-compliant way, supported Javascript, Python and Ruby languages (first class) and, most importantly, could work on all main OSes. You are completely mistaking Microsoft’s actions and vision. If anything, Steven Sinofsky (the president of Windows division) wanted to damage the .Net world, because .Net FREED developers from his Windows. MS is trying to use their “One Ring” (WinRT) to bind .Net, C++ and HTML+JS developers to Windows, but I don’t think they are going to succeed in it.
Good thing is, Sinofsky cannot possible kill .Net since C# and CLR are open standards and there are good open-source implementations available on all platforms.
Now that Sinofsky’s fired, there is some hope for Microsoft.

Boooo…sniff, sniff. I’ll miss Expression Web and Design. My bf’s livelihood is dependent on .NET so I can say not all .NET developers are like what you describe (his website is EW thanks to me 🙂 ). RIP Expression Web. ps I learned Expression Web from your DVD! Thanks for being such a great teacher.

@Firecracker: I’m known for putting things on edge and I can see how some people would think I am a .NET hater. I’m not and I know a lot of great .NET developers. However, in interacting with .NET and Microsoft stack fanatics I have found that they are very resistant to any change and that they look down upon those that choose to code differently than them. Of course this is equally true for other groups (JS and PHP in particular), but it is especially problematic when it comes to Microsoft because it produces an insulated environment where everyone serves their own variety of Kool-Aid and nothing changes. Last year I spoke to a large group of .NET developers and asked how many of them tested their sites in Chrome. Just under 25% said yes. Several of the others laughed and asked “why would we do that?”. That’s problematic. What I fear will happen in this case is that while Microsoft has lofty intentions of baking the front end and design features of xWeb into VS, the VS users will fight it tooth and nail because they don’t want their application soiled by “artsy fartsy design crap” (actual quote from a VS user in a discussion about this very topic), and since the current users are the only valued asset, nothing will change. Call me a realist.

I agree fully. Microsoft’s decision to drop Expression Web reminds me of the decision IBM made many years ago to drop OS/2. It was apparent that they had given up a major market segment just as Microsoft is doing now. for some time now, I have been considering migration to Dreamweaver, but I hesitated because the expense. I suppose that I should thank Microsoft for making that decision for me.

I just touched EW to create a web site for my business. I don’t know if it is worth for me to spend time to learn EW or not due to this situation. Is there any other easy web develop tools on the market? How long do you think EW still can be used for maintenance and development of a web side?

I am going to have to agree with the decision to EOL EW. It was always a second rate product. While no one can question MSFT’s mis-steps in the last few years, I believe the author of this post here has overreached significantly by suggesting MSFT’s position is that the “web is dying” because they have decided to retire a junky front end product in lieu of VS.

By that argument, Apple feels the same way with their native Xcode (ie Objective C) platform for iOS apps. No one seems to blame them for a proprietary approach to app development.

And as for MSFT’s commitment to the web, have you checked out the MVC environment recently? We .NET web form developers are astounded at how quickly MSFT has actually adopted the HTML 5 browser centric approach. You should google TypeScript to see an example about MSFT’s move to a more open source and web centric development ecosystem.

I generally have agreed with the MSFT bashing of late, but in this case give ’em a break.

@Davide: Expression Web was only ever perceived as a second rate product by people who chose to see it as a step child of Visual Studio, which is was not. Expression Web was an IDE with a difference, and it was neither second rate nor something that should have been shelved. As for the position from Microsoft that the web is moving towards (Win8) apps rather than websites, that is pretty much a direct quote.

The move to ditch xWeb is a clear sign that Microsoft wants to invest only in developers that work with their platform. Visual Studio has nothing to offer for anyone working outside the Microsoft sandbox. Their move towards HTML5 has nothing to do with a desire to appeal to more developers but is a necessary move to keep on top of where the web in general is heading. To not move to HTML5 would be moronic.

This isn’t Microsoft bashing – it’s stating the obvious: Microsoft has gutted Expression Web in favour of focusing on Windows 8 apps. That may make sense internally, but for every person who works on the web, it is a stupid move that leads them away from Microsoft and towards other options.

@DavidE: I urge you to actually try to use xWeb for what it was meant to be used for and then come back. Based on your comment it seems you think xWeb was an inferior step child to Visual Studio. You fail to realize they are two entirely different types of applications meant to do entirely different things. Side by side Expression Web should be compared to a similar application like Adobe Dreamweaver. While Dreamweaver is more built out, Expression Web produces cleaner and more usable standards based code out of the box with less cruft in the application.

The statement about the web being replaced by native apps was an actual argument provided by Microsoft itself, and it seems to be the modus operandi of their recent actions. Whether you agree with it or not is irrelevant. It is what they say they believe.

xWeb was not retired in lieu of VS. It was scrapped because Microsoft is focusing its efforts on making developers produce Windows 8 apps. My argument is that while this may make sense internally in the short run, it writes off the entire market of non-Microsoft stack front end web developers leaving them to go elsewhere for their IDEs. This is stupid because it makes the same front end web developers less likely to explore Microsoft stack solutions. Once you move to Dreamweaver or open source the chance of moving back to .NET becomes far less likely.

As for Microsoft’s sudden switch to HTML5, it has little to do with forward thinking and everything to do with catching up to everyone else. We – the open source community – have been working with HTML5 for years, and Expression Web was one of the fea IDEs that were following suit. In the last couple of years I have been flabbergasted by the resistance from Microsoft stack developers of moving towards HTML5, and it is only now that Microsoft itself is forcing it on them they are catching up. That’s not conjecture. That’s based on meetings with Microsoft MVPs and collaborations in forums and at conferences.

There is no Microsoft bashing here. All I’m doing is saying what everyone else is afraid to say: Scrapping xWeb is a stupid move that will be seen as a misstep down the road.

How true! Morten,
I have been developing simple websites for my friends and clients for the past three years with EW 2.It is an easy tool to learn and work with.I may have to switch to wordpress sites from now on.

In reading the link in your article that loads Microsoft’s statement on this, it’s clear that they are only dropping Expression 4.0.

They have released Expression for Visual Studio 2012 that supports Silverlight 5.0 and Silverlight 5.0 is fully supported in Visual Studio 2012 .Net version 4.5. They are better integrated too.

Silverlight is alive and well as well as Expression.

@Jack: They are dropping Expression Web, Expression Design, and Expression Encoder and baking Expression Blend into Visual Studio. Visual Studio is not a bigger, better version of Expression Web but a completely different application with a completely different user base and target audience. By discontinuing Expression Web they are throwing out all front end web developers who are not working with the Microsoft platform out with the bath water.

I can’t find anything in Visual Studio 2012 that is missing for the products mentioned. I’m using Expression for Visual Studio 2012 and have access to everything used before for demanding websites calling for the most advanced features. What is it exactly that Visual Studio 2012 doesn’t support? I can only see that earlier versions of the products mentioned are not supported beyond the time period stated. Everything else seems to be in place. It would be helpful to know specifically what is needed that will no longer be supported.

One can develop for any target audience. Examples exist to do so. Perhaps you are referring to the requirement of having to use their OS for these tools. Not sure.

I think I get what the issue is. From a user’s standpoint, with these “front” end applications going away, except for Blend + Sketchflow and the new features in there, then it would be a blow having to use the old versions and essentially left in the dust with time.

I agree that this is a real negative. I’m wondering if all of us, who are interested, would be willing to discuss this with Microsoft.

I see your point.

You pretty much got it. The issue is that xWeb is not a simplified version of Visual Studio but something completely different. And when it is gone, its users will not migrate to Visual Studio but move away from Microsoft applications all together. Blend and Sketchflow are again tools for something completely different. xWeb is a front end web design and development platform focusing on the design element. It was meant to work in conjunction with applications like Blend and Visual Studio. I think that’s what a lot of the people who say ‘no big deal’ to it’s demise are missing: xWeb users and VS users are different audiences with different jobs and they create different things. One was never meant to replace the other.

What’s missing from Visual Studio that you found in Expression Web was all the front end development tools like Design View and design centric tools. More importantly though, Visual Studio is clustered with tools the target audience of Expression Web would never use.

If a rank amateur may weigh in:
Microsoft Expression Web helped me create an easy-to-understand, and great-looking, well designed website,; even though I am a novice, at website building. I have been a .Net programmer (VB & C#) for over 8 years; I feel very comfortable with the platform — but it’s web building schemes are awful; Non-intuitive, poor WYSIWYG updating, and above all, contain many bugs which make developing a website horrific. I suppose if one wants to have to backtrack, and redo the webpage every few days, .NET is the way to go. I wanted .NET to be the premier platform for development. This would have more easily facilitated my (already designed) programs’ implementation into my website. However, this has proven colossally difficult, with .NET’s layout. I spend more time on MSDN sifting through the knowledge base, and trying to hash a solution, than I do building a web page. The author is correct, MSEW was (and is) so much more beautifully designed for use by novices. This move is most unfortunate for non-professionals such as myself.

We have all been rank amateurs at one point or another, and the views of the rank amateur are as valuable as those of the professional, so your views are most welcome. You got my point exactly. xWeb might seem a simplistic tool for those familiar with applications like Visual Studio, but xWeb was never meant to be used by that user group. Visual Studio is an application for high level application development within the Microsoft stack. Expression Web is a web design and development IDE. To equate them would be like saying a car and a horse are the same thing. Much of the debate surrounding the demise of xWeb is dominated by this misunderstanding, mostly at the hands of VS users; that xWeb is a crappy version of VS. What is lost is that they are two different things used by different people for different purposes. And when one is removed, its users will not move to the other but rather move to an alternative solution made by someone else.

> .NET is seeing a sharp decline in favour of more agile development languages…

Can you link to some sources for this?

xWeb is a successor to a great HTML editor called Microsoft Frontpage.

Just like you said: you used xWeb as an HTML/CSS editor for PHP developer. Then yes, it is a loss for you.

If you had authored ASP.NET / MVC websites, then you wouldn’t have noticed it in the first place, because all the tools are in the Visual Studio, only to mention powerful JS intellisense/debugger, great unit testing features, fantastic integrated environment, excellent productivity addons like Resharper and more.

Dropping EW is a mistake – Microsoft needs accessible web tools especially for non-programmers and SMEs that handle their own sites in-house.

Just got livelessions EW 4 video to learn more…didn’t know about the news..O well I’m having fun learning more. For now It still works for me.

So if EW is dead, what would you recommend to take its place?
Or what about just continuing to use EW4?

I’m sticking with xWeb for the time being because it is an integral part of my development process. I am slowly moving to more code-based applications though so I can see a not-too-distant future where I’ll be doing everything in some form of code editor like Brackets. As an alternative to xWeb, Dreamweaver is the best thing out there. You can also look at Aptana studio, but it’s not even close when compared side by side.

I’m not a web developer so I’m a bit behind on Windows software. I changed to Linux and was really happy with it, until I bought a new PC which will only run Windows. So I had to backtrack last year. I began using my old MS FrontPage software. I know it is years outdated but, I like it. Isn’t Expression the updated/ new FrontPage? If so, I am sorry to see MS give up support to it. I was so proud the day I had enough money scraped together to buy my own copy of FrontPage. Now, people don’t build sites so much as set up WordPress and use that instead of getting into the guts of HTML and CSS. I only have one site which isn’t run on WP and it’s just a simple few pages. Anyway, my comments aren’t from someone “in the know” but I was surprised to read your post. I think Microsoft will regret moving away from actual web development and just looking at mobile apps – which is how I understood your post. I don’t use a cell phone, I just hate answering the phone. So, for me the other side of things is more relevant than all the apps and such which keep popping up at me as options on sites and software. Maybe at some point I will become a dinosaur for using the web without a mobile phone and etc. But, I find it simpler (and far less expensive).

Developing HMTL/CSS apps with expression blend for Windows 8 is a great designer experience. I’m sure in the not to distinct future we will be using Expression Blend for designing HTML5 Single Page Applications.

Now that I have tried the Dreamweaver trial and several tutorials, I am even more convinced that Microsoft made a serious mistake in dropping support for Expression Web. Dreamweaver appears to be one of those tools that evolved over time to include a little of everything. It is not intuitive, and I do not think it is well designed. On the other hand, Expression Web is intuitive and has a clear design. Microsoft simply did not support it well enough to draw users away from Dreamweaver. For instance, Dreamweaver is supported on the Mac, so those developing Web applications on a Mac don’t have the option of using Expression Web. I developed in the Visual Studio environment for several years. That environment is fine if you are part of a team developing large applications, but it is not attractive to someone who is mainly supporting small Web sites.


Thanks for all your training. I devoured your book and the DVD and the Lynda training. I’m very happy with the website your training helped me build. xWeb was indispensable.

Is there any chance Microsoft will release xWeb source code and have the user community continue support? Who could we contact? I would be willing to make the effort to keep this great product going.


I always enjoyed FP, even Interdev, and I have to admit it took me some time to start appreciating EW and css.

I am not a professional developer but always enjoyed maintaining my partner’s site (since 98):
– Follow its ranking and visit by tweaking SEO techniques,
– Add new pictures and comments
– tweak fonts and colours
– Play with User experience on smart phone and different browsers.
– Insert some Java and the likes.

So what’s next or more appropriately, what software should be next for the likes of me?

Best wishes to you, Morten. I have your LiveLessons and have done maybe a couple months of xWeb development and even I feel the loss. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be dedicated to it for years and to be instrumental in developing the actual product through your use of it and feedback upon it and public exposition of it, only to have the tool abandoned based upon ignorant decisions made by corporate executives.

That topic has been on my mind lately because it is obvious to me how ill-conceived Windows 8 was and is insofar as its dropping the Start Menu in favor of exclusive adoption of the “Modern” interface (haha, a very modern Fisher-Price Playskool toy. Please, flame me, folks. I love it). I’ve been scouring the web only to find that more people agree than disagree that a touch interface does not belong as the primary interface to a PC on which people do serious work with a high-DPI mouse, whether it be CAD or photo editing or some other dexterity-intensive pursuit. Further, the new start screen has no hierarchical design or drill-down ability and is slow, so that too seems to me, to borrow a word from Mike Tyson, ludicrous.

Back in ’96-97 I used Microsoft Frontpage, then made the switch to Macromedia Dreamweaver which later became Adobe. Now that Adobe is only continuing development on its subscription based Creative Cloud applications, I am searching for an alternative. While I can develop in notepad(and have), I really like the added features of Dreamweaver as it cuts down my development time significantly. I just stumbled upon Microsoft Expressions Web 4, and it is the first real Windows based alternative I have seen for Dreamweaver. I’m disappointed to read they have discontinued development on this project. I’d imagine with the right marketing Microsoft could fill a much needed gap that Adobe has made by switching to pricey subscription only options. That being said, I am curious what you are using now? If you know of any worthy alternatives please share!

Thank you Morten for your passionate blog-post!
This thread is rather old, but still I wonder what replacement for xWeb people have found or that they can live with an ageing xWeb and finding solutions for developing responsive web design, still using xWeb?

I just wanted to weigh in on all this as well. I’m an IT professional based in western Canada with many years of experience in things like supporting MS based networks. I am very much opposed to the highly negative changes that have been introduced with Windows 8/8.1 (too many to list here), and was shocked to hear that a major reason why Microsoft has chosen to abandon such a good product like Expression Web was due to their deluded idea that somehow Windows 8 “apps” were going to take over and even somehow replace conventional websites! This is beyond dumb. I had just thought it was because Microsoft was lazy, blind and didn’t want to put forth the effort to continue supporting EW that they had pulled this amazing product. But I now know that a corporate philosophy based on foolishness (and even downright wickedness) was responsible for this tragic loss.

This app-centric insanity is not confined to Microsoft only. In the fall of 2014 a friend pointed that some marketing genius over at Taco Bell US had pulled their website, including marketing and nutritional information, in favor for a dead homepage that simply pointed people to download the Apple and Android smartphone apps! Well what if you have a Blackberry 10, Windows phone 7 or no smartphone at all!? You should have the ability to view the content of a company’s website on any computer, not just certain smartphone platforms. That would represent an inconceivable dumbing-down of technology, and horrible customer service and marketing. So we marveled at the stupidity of this move, noting that the Canadian Taco Bell site was still in-tact with all the same features as before. However, more recently someone must have pulled the wool off their eyes and Taco Bell US again restored their website to a semblance of normalcy.
But anyways, getting back to the main point of this blog post—the demise of MS EW 4, this has to be among the worst things I have seen a tech company do. I fully agree support Morten’s comments on the power and effectiveness of this toolkit, which was probably the best program on the market to enable the average person to build a good-quality website from scratch, or with a template. It provides a good alternative to WordPress for conventional website development (although can use WordPress as well), allowing you to manage the content on your local PC.
It is also an amazing environment to work in for learning the fundamentals of web development like HTML and CSS, and would have been a great product for Microsoft to market to educational institutions like high schools and community colleges, besides mainstream and hobbyist web developers. As has been rightly pointed out, trying to get most of existing EW users into a product like Visual Studio would simply not happen as they would find it too intimidating, ineffective and overly complex.

Instead of discontinuing this great product, they should have developed and released a version 5 around 2012-13 and continued development indefinitely. As long as the web thrives, there would be a market for this kind of software. Mobile apps were not intended to replace the web but rather to supplement it for people on the go. If these guys think the web is dead just because the jackasses have come out with their own proprietary platform for “apps” they are dead wrong. That is so blind and self-centered it is genuine insanity. These little pathetic programs would never be allowed to take over. They were designed to be run only on the Windows 8.x Metro screen (or mobile devices) and are characterized by poor graphics. Even far more popular apps like those that run on Android and iOS will never supplant the web as we know it. Morten was right that they had their heads buried deep in a riverbed, unable to see the obvious truths before them that the web isn’t going away. All this will serve to make MS less relevant when they could have been a key player.

For myself, although I’m very strong in core IT, I’ve been only dabbling in web development for the past several years, but am now focusing on learning it with the help of some great new books I was able to find at Chapters. In addition, I’m going through Morten’s Expression Web 4 training DVD again (first purchased it back in 2012), and also his EW4 book, which is among the best resources out there. The amount of value that the EW platform offers in vast and the loss to the world of its discontinuance is hard to compute. I feel especially bad for Morten as he was one of the foremost experts on EW, as well as the EW team @ MS who probably ended up getting largely laid off. I believe people should be given more choices, options & control over their software, not less. Nobody should have to use a tool as primitive as notepad to write web code in when a program like EW4 is available, now for free! Sometimes older technology is better than newer, and I plan to use EW4 for a long time.

In closing, Microsoft may find that as they continue to degrade the quality and quantity of the software they make available (removing good products and features from existing offerings), while buying into other fallacies (like subscription-only software rather than direct ownership), that their corporate profits will eventually begin to suffer. We’ve already started to see some evidence of this in their latest quarterly results. Bottom line—if they continue to treat the customer like crap then the thing they value most—profit—will eventually slip away.

A few examples of loss or degradation of products other than Expression Web would include Windows 8/8.1 without the Start menu and many other problems; Office 2013 with its poorer UI and elimination of an MSI installer for most versions; Windows XP and Office 2003 falling out of support (while still being used by a large number of corporations); Windows Live Messenger (supposedly replaced by Skype, but this lacks many of the functional and user-friendly features from before); Hotmail’s replacement by (with its very dumbed-down Windows 8 style UI); and also quite strangely Windows Small Business Server, which was very popular and had a whole ecosystem of vendors and consultants supporting it. If only Microsoft could have been under better management the last number of years, the quality of their decisions could have been so much better!

And now I understand – thank you all.

I am an ‘old guy’ with a tech background – primarily software, followed by Product Management followed by executive positions. We started our company in the late 60s and had a better mousetrap. We grew to 3400 employees prior to being acquired by NCR and then AT&T.

Trust me when I say I have witnessed, and possibly made, some really dumb/arrogant/self-serving management decisions. My view is that these decisions typically based on
• Lack of knowledge – often intentionally
• Failure to understand that new approaches are parasitic to existing approaches and markets. This leads to lack of innovation.
• Having a strategic view that is disconnected from reality and following that strategic approach.

Recently I decided to do some web site development to promote a fishing lure type invention. As I stepped back into the bits and bytes I was astounded by the current products and markets. Having slogged around Expression Web 4 and Visual Studio 2013 for a while, I was puzzled why the EW 4 product features were not incorporated in VS. So I kept looking since surely I must be missing something.

Only when I encountered this blog was the answer finally made clear.

The Microsoft decision regarding EW and Windows apps clearly fits into the ‘strategic view’ approach mentioned above. My sense is that it is wrong but it will take another decade to see the eventual outcome.

Thanks to all who contributed to this thread and helped me understand.

Yes I fully agree with your commentary on their strategic view disconnected from reality. It was amazing as I have been combing the web for resources on beefing up my web development skills, I came across the 30-day challenge on the MS Virtual Academy. Naturally I signed up for the web development challenge, but as soon as I logged in and started watching the first video, I was disappointed as I noticed that it wasn’t really about web development at all, but about building Windows 8 apps!

So it was just what Morten had said over 2 years ago when Microsoft jumped ship and abandoned front-end web development. The “web-development” title was a misnomer and even a scam–they were trying to brainwash would-be web developers into contributing to their self-centered agenda of building Windows 8 apps. So it was really quite disgusting. And of course their tool of choice was Visual Studio, which is too advanced for most people and not relevant to building conventional sites. I even feel sorry for the people who work for Microsoft, because they have had to submit to this corporate madness as well.

I’m hoping that MS will not succeed in covering all this up and that this policy will come back to bite them hard.

Just doing a bit more research and found it was not quite as bad as it looked at first. Microsoft does fortunately still support the Pro versions of Expression Web 4, which will be entering extended support later this year and will be covered by extended support until October 2020 (see: So this way if you have or can find a surplus copy of Expression Studio 4 Web Professional (or Ultimate), then you should still be able to get regular updates through MS Update. I think I may actually go and invest in a copy off Amazon or E-bay so I can get the most updated and complete product available. But the free version is still an amazing toolkit!

Perhaps if another company is interested in taking it on, Microsoft might even be willing to license the source code so that future versions can continue to be developed… Just a thought as I don’t want to see this program sink.

Excellent article, and sadly too familiar. Coming back to coding/tech after a hiatus and needing a front-end web designer, I searched in vain on Now I know why.

The question is, now in 2017, what’s a convenient tool to design a website? I can build a website, no problem (… but to get one that looks nice and modern (a struggle for a mathematician/techie), I need all the help I can get… a clean, straightforward html/css editor/generator, basically. Especially as the site will have very little dynamic content. It’s a marketing piece basically.

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