[news=http://news.google.com/news?imgefp=1RPL_K1GgBkJ&imgurl=www.kashar.net/newspics/Expression.jpg]LOS ANGELES -- Microsoft's long list of competitors just became a little longer.
The Redmond company unveiled its new collection of professional graphic design and animation tools Wednesday, moving into the longtime domain of Adobe Systems and the company Adobe is acquiring, Macromedia.
The Microsoft Expression tools, still in preliminary form, demonstrate the company's continued willingness to tackle more areas of the software business -- even if that means competing with other companies that make software for Microsoft's Windows operating system.
Microsoft's new tools -- code-named "Acrylic," "Quartz" and "Sparkle" -- promise to rival programs including Adobe Illustrator, Adobe GoLive and Macromedia Flash. But an Adobe official downplayed the competitive implications after watching Microsoft demonstrate the products at a conference here.
"We're pretty confident that our graphics customers will continue to look to Adobe tools to provide a rich and full array of graphics functionality," said Pam Deziel, Adobe's director of platform strategy.
Microsoft, to be sure, is considerably more bullish about its new initiative. The company believes the new Expression tools will be "a great step forward" in the way people create and use programs on the Web and on Windows, said S. "Soma" Somasegar, corporate vice president in Microsoft's Developer Division.