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Microsoft Details New Tools

Attendees at last week’s Microsoft Professional Developers Conference got an eyeful of new tools, including those for workflow, Web design and application customization, intended for Windows Vista and Office 12, all due to ship the second half of 2006.

Microsoft publicly unveiled Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF), Expression designer tools and Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA), the successor to Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).

The tools present new opportunities for VARs to play in the application and Web services arenas, Microsoft said. The tools debuted as Microsoft also announced last week Release Candidate 1 of its core development platform, Visual Studio 2005, as well as Community Technology Previews of its Windows Vista, Longhorn Windows Server and SQL Server 2005 platforms.

The biggest announcement was the beta 1 release of WWF, the anticipated workflow engine and framework that is part of Vista Windows client operating system and its WinFX programming model.

“The Windows Workflow Foundation will benefit the entire stack of Microsoft products and Microsoft partners, whether ISVs or custom developers,” said Andrew Brust, CTO of Citigate Hudson, an application developer in New York. “Partners can embed this engine into their own custom solutions or shrink-wrapped products, and suddenly everyone is working to a common standard,” he said. “Plus, there’s still plenty of room for Workflow ISVs to innovate on top of what WWF provides.”

Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., also disclosed plans to ship a new family of Expression designer tools aimed at bridging the gap between Web designers and corporate developers.

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