Microsoft Website Builder – 5 Alternative Options
Just about everyone on the planet has heard about Microsoft, the American multinational technology company founded by Bill Gates and his childhood friend Paul Allen. Microsoft is the world’s largest software maker. Gates famously stated his mission of “a computer on every desk and in every home”. If mobile devices count, I’d say he has reached his goal. But how does Microsoft fair in the website building arena?
In this article we’ll dive deep into the world of Microsoft Website builder options. Firstly, let’s cover the basics.
Does Microsoft Have a Website Builder?
Microsoft doesn’t seem to be a big player in the website builder arena. They used to provide a software package called “FrontPage” that ran the internet at one point, but support for this product is now discontinued.
Microsoft FrontPage was available for almost two decades – however they stopped supporting it back in 2009. The old FrontPage HTML editor has since been replaced by Microsoft Expression Web and the lesser known Microsoft SharePoint Designer. Since 2012 Microsoft Expression Web 4 has been discontinued, however you can download it from their site. SharePoint Designer is also a thing of the past.
Is Microsoft FrontPage still available?
Up until April 2014 Microsoft provided some extended support for FrontPage. Now they have completely discontinued the FrontPage web publishing software and it is no longer supported. You can however download the legacy software from the Microsoft website, so we’ll discuss the applications for the discontinued software should you like to give them a go.
Because Microsoft has stepped out of the Web Builder Arena, we’ll also explore Microsoft supported web builder tools that you can take advantage of.
#1 | Microsoft Expression Web 4 (Free)
I chose Expression Web 4 to be first on the list because, despite support being pulled, Microsoft Expression Web 4 is an actual Microsoft visual website editor. Microsoft released Microsoft Expression Web 4 in 2006 and then dropped support in 2012.
Specifically designed for Microsoft Developers, Microsoft Expression Web 4 supports ASP.Net and Microsoft Silverlight. You can edit your website code either directly or through their easy to use visual editor.
Microsoft Expression Web 4 is especially good for embedding multimedia files like videos and photos on your web pages. This website editor has some nice features and is completely free, so it’s worth a go if you are looking specifically for a “Microsoft” website builder.
- You can embed multimedia files
- Visual Editor/ Edit code directly
- Great for Microsoft developers
- Completely free
- Support is discontinued
- Old fashioned appearance
#2 | Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code is more of a source-code editor than a website builder. However, as Microsoft website builders are slim pickings – I thought I’d throw it in. If you’re looking to get into coding like a professional developer, then Visual Studio is brilliant. It has nice syntax highlighters and it’s free and open source. VS code is made for just about every programming languages like Python, C++, C#, Batch, F# and Objective-C. You can also create CSS files to make your website look stylish. The only caviate is that you’d need to get into coding to use Visual Studio.
- Professional Set up
- Easy to use UX
- Works in both Windows and MacOS
- Not for beginners
- No templates
#3 | Wix (for FREE)
Next up is Wix – a popular website building platform that has partnered with Microsoft Office 365. Meaning you can use your Microsoft Office 365 account and get your Wix subscription free. You can even login to your Wix account with your Office 365 details. Wix is a slick, modern free website builder tool that is so easy, a young child could use it. They offer clean and professional looking website templates that you can click to select and then all you have to do is drag and drop elements to complete your design.
With Wix you have everything you need to build a website and get it up and running in a matter of minutes. You can even go in and make your pages just perfect with the Wix page editor. Wix has a wide range of helpful tutorials on using your Microsoft Office 365 subscription to create your Wix site. You can also connect an Office 365 to a domain on your Wix account.
- Easy drag-and-drop designer
- Professional website templates
- Creates modern websites in minutes
- Subscription included with Microsoft Office 365
- Great for beginners
- Not a Microsoft product
#4 |GoCentral (from $5.99 p/m)
GoCentral is the website builder tool from GoDaddy. GoCentral isn’t a Microsoft product, but like Wix, they’ve partnered with Microsoft. I like the fact that you get Microsoft Office 365 as part of your subscription with GoCentral.
GoCentral has been designed with the modern short attention span in mind. They’ve stated that the platform has been created for you to create your website in an hour or less, which is fantastic if you want to give a website idea a go and are short of time.
GoCentral isn’t wonderful when it comes to flexibility in your website creation. Also it can be quite slow. On a positive note, GoCentral is great for creating all types of website, including eCommerce sites.
- Quick and easy to use
- eCommerce sites included
- Clean professional templates
- Bundled with Microsoft Office 365
- Not a Microsoft product
- Limited design options
#5 | WebMatrix 3 (FREE)
Web Matrix 3 is yet another website builder from Microsoft that you can access for FREE. However, like FrontPage, Microsoft Expression Web and Microsoft SharePoint Designer, support for Web Matrix 3 is discontinued, as of 2017. Hence, it’s now totally free and great for people who are working with older websites built in Web Matrix 3.
WebMatrix could be an interesting place to start if you want to learn to create websites for free. They offer a wide range of helpful tutorials that guide you through the entire process. You can jump on the WebMatrix site and download their software, select templates and even preview a mobile website view.
- Template Selection
- Mobile preview
- Great for coders and coding enthusiasts
- Not for the novice
- Support discontinued
#6 | Microsoft FrontPage
Yet another product from Microsoft that has seen its support pulled. FrontPage is great for those who want to work with legacy websites. FrontPage was one of the first website builders and a big thing in its day. However, as the internet exploded, so too did our options for website builders and editors.
FrontPage was launched in 1997 and was one of the original website building platforms. They were the first platform to provide a What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor – so you could preview your websites before you put them online. Pretty standard in 2019 but back in 1997 the feature was quite revolutionary.
As we are discussing Microsoft Website builders, I thought it was fitting to add FrontPage into the list as it paved the way for future website builders. FrontPage is SharePoint’s predecessor.
# 7 |Microsoft Website Builder SharePoint
DepositFiles has servers in 9 countries, which is great for uploading and downloading. They also offer 10GB for free. With DepositFiles there are a few catches. One is that you’ll have to endure advertisements on your FREE account. Their site and user interface is also a bit dated and not very intuitive. You can upgrade to the gold membership which gets you faster upload and download speeds and you can pay with credit card or Bitcoin. DepositFiles pricing is a bit steep at $12 per month, and with this you don’t get extra file storage.
One thing that is great about DepositFiles is the fact that you can send a link with password protection – even on the free plan. I also like the fact that they store your files for free for an unlimited time.
- Great CMS for document management
- Not for public website builds
Both Wix and GoCentral are great options if you want any or all of the software products that you get bundled in the subscription package, like Word, Outlook and PowerPoint. If you already have those covered and are looking for a more comprehensive website builder from Microsoft you could go for Visual Studio Code. However, this product is specifically suited for people who want to do coding, whereas Wix and GoCentral are more designed for the complete beginner.