It seemed very irrational to me that Microsoft would take any steps to alienate their core developer audience. They usually cater to them like crazy. But in the case of the new Expression toolset, Microsoft's developer division did just that. On one hand, they constantly used the word "developer" in their marketing materials, and said that the product was the replacement for FrontPage.
But on the other hand, they didn't put it up on their developer network, told them to use "Sharepoint Designer" instead, and forced developers to pay $100 for the product. Sure, I mean $100 doesn't sound like much, but when you're paying $3,000 for an MSDN subscription, that seems like an unnecessary expense, right? Personally, I didn't get it at all, and I was quoted in the press several times to that effect.
Well, Microsoft finally caved today, and put Expression Web and Expression Blend (the HTML and XAML designers, respectively) on MSDN for subscribers. Personally, I think this is a much smarter decision, and not just because I get another free toy. If Microsoft is trying to gain marketshare against Adobe, they're going to need their core developer audience. And giving it away for free to a good portion of their developers will allow them to do that, and I believe will ultimately sell copies of their entire design set (which is half the cost of Adobe's BTW).
Expression has a long way to go before there is a 1:1 feature parity with the Adobe toolset. But this is an excellent start towards winning the hearts and minds of developers. Because whether Microsoft likes it or not, the unfortunate reality is that developers often have to be designers too. And now the "Jack of all tradesmen" can have the right tools for the job.