So, the news is out about what iView is going to be called by “beauty makes us think better” Microsoft:

Expression Media is a professional digital asset management tool to visually catalog and organize all of a creative professional?s digital assets for effortless retrieval and presentation. Expression Media is due to be released in Spring 2007 and will retail for $299. Expression Media will be a free upgrade for registered users of iView MediaPro 3.

$299 for new users - now, that's a bit steep. It'll have to have some seriously-good new features. After all, I bet $299's what Lightroom will cost, and it processes pictures too.

Most interesting is that Microsoft are positioning iView with a set of tools aimed at the web and design communities, not at photographers. It clearly makes sense to attempt to gain more of the web design market - Visual Studio is fine for connecting to back end databases but isn't how you'd want to design a site's front end. So iView will be part of a suite with “Expression Web… a professional design tool to create modern, standards-based sites which deliver superior quality on the Web.” Of course, being standards-based is like being for motherhood and apple pie - luckily for Microsoft there are lots of standards out there. Apparently an upgrade for users of the execrable Frontpage, it sounds like Expression Web is yet another sad charge uphill into Dreamweaver's guns….

Also in the suite is what sounds like a Flash authoring tool, “Expression Blend … the professional design tool to create engaging web-connected experiences for Windows.” Eek. Web-connected experiences? The other product “Expression Design is a professional illustration and graphic design tool that lets you build compelling elements for both Web and desktop application user interfaces” looks like a vector drawing program whose clear description is blissfully untouched by expensive marketing guff.

But where is the photography part of the suite?

As I said when Microsoft took over iView, by the time we're able to decide whether the takeover was a good thing, we'd already be using Lightroom in any case. On the other hand, what part of “free upgrade” don't I understand / like?