Friday, April 3, 2009

SharePoint Designer is Free

I have just learned that, as of April 1st, Microsoft is now offering SharePoint Designer free to download on their website. All customers with SharePoint Designer 2007 Software Assurance will receive upgrade rights to Expression Web for the lifetime of their SA agreement. Future releases of SharePoint Designer will also be free. The next version of SharePoint Designer will be available simultaneously with the release of the next version of SharePoint.

Also noted is that future releases of Expression Web will become an excellent choice for page customization of SharePoint sites. I'm not exactly sure why this was not the case to begin with but it makes perfect sense. Lets look at the history of Microsoft's SharePoint customization tools to understand why.

With SharePoint 2003, designers and developers used Microsoft FrontPage 2003 with the SharePoint extensions. In the 2007 release of SharePoint, FrontPage was phased out (or shall we say rebranded) and SharePoint Designer emerged. Expressions Web also became the new face for FrontPage, but there wasn't and support for customizing SharePoint. You could say Microsoft is going back to it's initial position by providing Expression Web (er FrontPage) with SharePoint support once again. The real question here is, why have two applications at all if they will essential do the same thing? The interfaces are almost exactly the same, and now the tools will be the same... or will they be? Hmm. Is Microsoft going to be spinning SharePoint Designer into a trimmed Expression Web? And if so, what will be lost in the traslation?

You can read about some of this and more in Microsoft's Letter to SharePoint Design Customers and Q&A on SharePoint Designer 2007 Licensing Changes published on Monday 3/30/2009. There is also an FAQ video in the "Related Resources" section to learn more about details and the future direction of SPD.

To learn more about SharePoint Designer, visit the Home Page for SharePoint Designer 2007.

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