SharePoint Designer Offered as Free Development Tool

Microsoft didn't want price to be a barrier to SharePoint users

Microsoft on Wednesday announced that its SharePoint Web portal design tool is now available as a free download, which can be accessed here.

Microsoft decided to offer Office SharePoint Designer 2007 for free because it didn't want price to be a barrier to SharePoint users, according to Tom Rizzo, senior director of product management for the SharePoint team. Microsoft has so far sold more than 100 million SharePoint licenses, he added in a video announcement.

SharePoint Designer 2007 was still listed at Amazon.com for $238.49 on Friday, but it is being removed from Microsoft's price catalog and will only be available from Microsoft as a free download as of April 1.

In addition, Microsoft eventually plans to make its Expression Web product compatible with SharePoint. Expression Web is developer tool for creating dynamic Web sites using ASP.NET and PHP scripting, but it currently "does not directly support SharePoint," according to a SharePoint team letter. The letter didn't say when that SharePoint compatibility would be enabled.

For those who just bought SharePoint Designer 2007 and have Software Assurance licensing for that product, Microsoft is making a concession of sorts. The company is offering Expression Web to those who had Software Assurance licensing as of April 1, 2009 -- to "make it right" for those customers, according to a Microsoft Q&A.

Both dev tools -- SharePoint Designer and Expression Web -- trace their lineage, in part, to Microsoft Office FrontPage, which is a "legacy" Web development tool. Microsoft's mainstream support for the current FrontPage 2003 product will end on April 14, 2009, with paid extended support ending on April 8, 2014, according to a Microsoft lifecycle page.

Expression Web licensees have the right to use FrontPage 2003, if they prefer that dev tool, according to the Q&A.

Microsoft plans to ship the next version of SharePoint Designer with the next SharePoint release. That next release, called "SharePoint 14," may appear in beta form in "the next several months," according to a blog by Guy Creese, vice president and research director of the collaboration and content strategies service at Burton Group.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.