Microsoft Expression Media 2

Organise your digital assets

Media 2 is the only part of Microsoft's Studio that runs on a Mac. Offering better import options and organisational ability than the original, Media 2 also supports XAML, Design and Encoder XEJ formats from Expression Studio, as well as Microsoft Office 2007/2008 and CSS, JS, and VBS file formats. All standard image and movie formats are also supported.

Microsoft claims Media now imports media, builds cataloguers and works across networks far faster; it certainly performed well in our tests. New error-checking protocols mean that import doesn't hang when it finds a corrupt file, and an autoplay function offers you the choice of importing and cataloguing files on storage media as soon as they've been mounted.

There's also catalogue locking so that multiple users can access and view a catalogue from a shared location while someone has it open and is editing it.

The Organise panel has new menus in annotation fields, with options for sorting images using either a union or an intersection of keywords. There's also Hierarchical Keywording, which is very welcome if you've got lots of media covering a similar subject.

Some features require QuickTime, but you can also use the new WIC (Windows Imaging Component) for image encoding, decoding, and transformation. For certain file types, you'll still need to install individual codecs, however. Export options include burning image catalogues to CD/DVD — but one of the new choices is to output the files in a Web gallery, using a selection of Silverlight themes.