REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 15, 2006 – As the Internet becomes an increasingly valuable environment for individuals and organizations to share information, collaborate and carry out tasks, the people tasked with building Web sites to support these activities need increasingly powerful and versatile tools to accomplish their goals.

Having adopted technologies such as Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 to help create, manage and build collaborative Web sites, many organizations are discovering that their current Web-authoring tools lack support for the latest standards and capabilities that SharePoint products and technologies makes possible – such as ready access to data coming from multiple outside sources and the capacity to build no-code, powerful applications and automated workflows. Professional Web site designers also are feeling the pressure to deliver more dynamic and interactive user experiences, and to create sites more rapidly and cost-efficiently.

In response to these diverse demands, Microsoft is introducing a new tool, Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007, for building SharePoint applications and designing SharePoint sites. This new product – part of the full 2007 Microsoft Office lineup announced today – will join Microsoft Expression Web Designer, the next-generation tool for designing dynamic, standard-based Web sites, to deliver a complete set of tools for Web design and development. Both products are currently in initial beta testing. Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer is scheduled for release in the second half of this year at a suggested retail price of US$299 through retail and Microsoft Volume Licensing channels. Pricing and availability details for Microsoft Expression Web Designer will be announced in the near future.

PressPass recently asked John Richards, director of Windows SharePoint Services at Microsoft, to describe how these new products fit into the company’s overall approach to Web authoring technologies. Full story here

So what is happening with FrontPage?? Here’s the answer:

PressPass: What is happening to the current FrontPage product, and how is Microsoft communicating with FrontPage users to alleviate concerns about migration, ongoing technical support and the like?

Richards: After we fully release SharePoint Designer 2007 and Expression Web Designer, FrontPage will be discontinued gradually. This process will bring our customers and partners a broader choice of tools that go far beyond the capabilities within the current FrontPage product to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s Web authors, designers and developers.

In the meantime, Microsoft will continue to provide current FrontPage customers with full product support through June 2008, as well as clear guidance on how they can smoothly migrate to SharePoint Designer 2007 or Expression Web Designer, depending on their roles and needs. In the near future, all registered Microsoft Office FrontPage customers will receive e-mail from Microsoft outlining our overall strategy and roadmap for these next-generation Web authoring tools. We also will provide continual updates on the Microsoft Office product Web site. In addition, current FrontPage customers in both the retail and enterprise channels will be able to take advantage of special upgrade offers starting in the second half of 2006.

FrontPage is dead, long live SharePoint Designer…