Microsoft has announced new workflow technology and a set of design tools for both Web-based applications and the forthcoming Windows Vista.

The company also demonstrated its integratation plans for enterprise content management (ECM) into Office 12 on the back of its SharePoint technology - something that will see it discontinue its current Content Management Server 2002.

Windows Workflow Foundation is a workflow engine, a WinFX programming model and a set of tools for developers to build workflow apps. "We will be adding Windows Workflow Foundation in Office 12, BizTalk and Microsoft Dynamics," said Eric Rudder, senior vice president of server and tools. "We find workflow very compelling."

Rudder said the beta code of WWF is available today and tight integration with Visual Studio would allow developers.

He also introduced a suite of design tools called Expression which include a painting, illustration and effects tool codenamed Acrylic; a design tool codenamed Sparkle; and a layout and design tool for creating websites codenamed Quartz.

Microsoft is using common file types and languages such as Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML), HTML and ASP.Net to help designers create 3D content, rich text and animation - and integrate them into Visual Studio 2005.

As for its ECM platform, the company said it would include deeper support for XML, a common set of IT administration tools and consistent development, deployment and management tools.