Microsoft is ramping up efforts to take on rival Adobe by relesing on Monday a second beta of Acrylic, a program intended to ease the process of creating graphics for Web pages. Microsoft initially released a preview of Acrylic in June, and since that time the application has been downloaded close to 200,000 times.

Microsoft has described Acrylic as the “codename for an innovative illustration, painting and graphics tool that provides exciting creative capabilities for designers working in print, web, video, and interactive media.”

Much of the code in Acrylic is based on a graphics program named Expression, which Microsoft picked up through the acquisition of Creature House in 2003.

Microsoft is also ostensibly readying a second graphics software suite dubbed “Expression Studio.” Rudder said that product would “have some very cool tools that combine the best of vector, some very cool tools for animation.” But it’s not clear if Microsoft will actually bring two distinct products to market.

“Eric Rudder used the name Expression Studio, but Microsoft has made no formal announcement on products. I wouldn’t assume that Acrylic and Expression Studio are the same or different products,” Wilcox said. “It’s too early to be certain, and I expect feedback on the two Acrylic betas would have a huge impact on any eventual product, whether one or maybe more.”

Pricing for Acrylic has not yet been announced, but Microsoft representatives have said it would be competitive with other graphics design programs of its type. No date has been set for a final release.

The Acrylic August 2005 CTP is available for download via FileForum.


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