Microsoft has released a community technology preview of the new Expression Web Designer, their new flagship Web development tool and competitor to Adobe’s Dreamweaver. The tool itself looks good but still needs some catching up to do to match the features and functionality found in Dreamweaver. In addition, a lot of Dreamweaver users are hooked on the tool because of it’s ability to quickly generate data-based applications with a minimum of coding required.

Expression Web Designer has a long way to go in this area, especially since Dreamweaver supports a wide range of web application platforms and languages (including JSP, PHP, .NET, etc.) and has a few year’s head-start on Microsoft in terms of featureset. It will also be interesting to see how the new Expression Web Designer is accepted among graphic designers and Web developers who come from a design background.

Will Expression Web Designer be able to compete with Dreamweaver? On the features side for pure Web development they have a lot of catching up to do—however, on the development side they have a huge pool of resources to call on to integrate more technology from Visual Studio.NET into the product. And with a focus on just one application platform, they may be able to bring a product to market that suits those .NET developers who are looking for something more than just Visual Studio.NET