Microsoft FrontPage (full name Microsoft Office FrontPage) is a WYSIWYG HTML editor and web site administration tool from Microsoft for the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems. It was branded as part of the Microsoft Office suite from 1997 to 2003. Microsoft FrontPage has since been replaced by Microsoft Expression Web and Sharepoint Designer, which were first released in December 2006.
FrontPage was initially created by the Cambridge, Massachusetts company Vermeer Technologies Incorporated, evidence of which can be easily spotted in filenames and directories prefixed _vti_ in web sites created using FrontPage. Vermeer was acquired by Microsoft in January 1996 specifically so that Microsoft could add FrontPage to its product line-up allowing them to gain an advantage in the browser wars as FrontPage was designed to author for their own browser, Internet Explorer.
As a WYSIWYG editor, FrontPage is designed to hide the details of pages' HTML code from the user, making it possible for novices to easily create web pages and sites.
FrontPage's initial outing under the Microsoft name came in 1996 with the release of Windows NT 4.0 Server and its constituent web server Internet Information Services 2.0. Bundled on CD with the NT 4.0 Server release, FrontPage 1.1 would run under NT 4.0 (Server or Workstation) or Windows 95. Up to FrontPage 98, the FrontPage Editor, which was used for designing pages was a separate application from the FrontPage Explorer which was used to manage website folders. With FrontPage 2000, both programs were merged into the Editor.
FrontPage used to require a set of server-side plugins originally known as IIS Extensions. The extension set was significantly enhanced for Microsoft inclusion of FrontPage into the Microsoft Office line-up with Office 97 and subsequently renamed FrontPage Server Extensions (FPSE). Both sets of extensions needed to be installed on the target web server for its content and publishing features to work. Microsoft offered both Windows and Unix-based versions of FPSE. FrontPage 2000 Server Extensions worked with earlier versions of FrontPage as well. FPSE 2002 was the last released version which also works with FrontPage 2003 and was later updated for IIS 6.0 as well. However, with FrontPage 2003, Microsoft began moving away from proprietary Server Extensions to standard protocols like FTP and WebDAV for remote web publishing and authoring. FrontPage 2003 can also be used with Windows SharePoint Services.
A version for Mac OS was released in 1998; however, it had fewer features than the Windows product and Microsoft has never updated it.
In 2006, Microsoft announced that FrontPage would eventually be superseded by two products. Microsoft SharePoint Designer will allow business professionals to design SharePoint-based applications. Microsoft Expression Web is targeted at the web design professional for the creation of feature-rich web sites. Microsoft announced that they would be discontinuing Microsoft FrontPage by December 2006.