How I Found the Best Free HTML Editor for Windows & Where You Can Download Your Copy Today!
My personal quest for the best free html editor for windows began when a number of clients with in-house coding and design skills were looking for an affordable, or better yet, free HTML editor for Windows.
After doing a Google search for “free HTML editor for Windows” it became apparent that there are a number open source HTML editors that are currently supported on a Windows platform. Good news, right? You’d think.
Unfortunately, after downloading, installing and testing a number of these free HTML editors on a Windows 7 laptop, nearly all fell short in key aspects such as support for libraries and templates, code compatibility and standards compliance checking , tag auto completion and other features and more common in commercial HTML editors and web development software.
Going back to the drawing board, the following Google searches were performed:
- “open source html editors”
- “free html editors”
- “free studio designer program”
- “best free html editor for windows”
- “ best web development editor”
That’s when an interesting post from Webmaster World emerged somewhere in one of the Google search results.
What Was Once a Commercial HTML Editor is Now Free!
Google searches eventually led to this discussion in the WYSIWYG and Text Code Editors Forum within Webmaster World. It talked about Microsoft Expression Web now offered by Microsoft for free. To me, this put Expression Web into immediate contention for the best free html editor for windows.
For those unfamiliar with the terms WYSIWYG, it stands for “What You See Is What You Get.” The post mentioned that Microsoft Expression Web, a commercial HTML editor for Microsoft and competitor to Adobe Dreamweaver, another html editing software program, was now being offered for free. Nice!
The Webmaster World post was published only two days after Microsoft quietly announced it was discontinuing Microsoft Expression Web and offering it as an unsupported free download to anyone that wanted it. Leave it to Webmaster World to be on top of these things.
I was already familiar with Microsoft Expression Web as I had downloaded a trial for Version 3 but had not purchased it after the trial expiration because of already having multiple licensed copies of Adobe Dreamweaver and with no immediate need for another commercial website development/html editing tool.
Download the best free html editor for windows (English) for free.
Note: This download was available at the time this post was published, but there is no guarantee how long Microsoft will be offering Expression Web 4 for free, so those interested are encouraged to download your copy now while still available from Microsoft.com.
Why is Microsoft Expression Web the Best Free HTML editor for Windows?
Microsoft Expression Web is much more than a free html editor for windows. Here is Microsoft’s description:
“Expression Web is a full-featured professional tool for designing, developing, and publishing compelling, feature-rich websites that conform to web standards.”
Expression Web has built-in support for current web standards, CSS design capabilities, and visual diagnostic tools. Expression Web also supports web development in the following programming languages:
Expression Web provides Internet marketers with a free website html editor for windows environments, supporting development, implementation and ongoing website maintenance.
For markets where labor is affordable and working capital is tight, Expression Web might be “just the ticket” to satisfy a small businesses web development team while getting “bootstrapped.” Expression Web gives these organizations access to commercial grade software for free.
Some Background on Expression Web
The Expression Web WYSIWYG html editor succeeded Microsoft’s initial HTML editor for Windows, FrontPage, which first released in Oct 2003.
Over time, many developers used Microsoft Expression Web to build and maintain websites and found it a perfectly acceptable HTML editor used to produce standards-compliant websites.
Expression Web was component of the discontinued Expression Studio. Expression Web was initially released December 4, 2006 and was officially discontinued on December 20, 2012, giving it a 6 year run.
Expression Web will run on the following Microsoft Windows operating systems:
- Windows XP SP3,
- Windows Vista,
- Windows 7,
- Windows 8.
Microsoft offered Expression Web, formally a commercial product, to the market free of charge and can download for free from: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=36179.
The Expression Web Review
If Expression Web was commercial and not free, I would not be ready to declare it better than Adobe Dreamweaver as a website development tool and html editor, but as they say in sales, “it is hard to beat free!”
We used Microsoft Expression Web to develop a client website from concept to deployment in large part because the person who would maintain the website for the client uses Expression Web and was already familiar with that environment. Typically we develop websites on Dreamweaver, but as anybody who’s purchased Dreamweaver knows, the licensing fees for Adobe Dreamweaver are not insignificant.
Overall, the Expression Web environment supports many of the features that other commercial web development software and WYSIWYG HTML editors such as Dreamweaver support. Even though there will be a learning curve for anybody attempting to use Expression Web as an HTML editor or for developing templates based websites for the first time, after a short period of usage, most web developers will find the Expression Web environment fairly intuitive.
The one quirk that we did run into using Expression Web 4 to develop the client website was Expression Web placing <div></div> tags when they became out of balance for whatever reason. Since these <div></div> tags were inserted into non-editable regions of the template-based pages, a text editor such as Windows Notepad was required to fix the tags that were inserted by Expression Web and necessary for maintaining connections between the impacted pages and the website template.
This was the only significant “bug” that we ran into while developing the website on Expression Web and once you are aware of what is going on, while annoying, mitigation is manageable. Readers considering Expression Web as their free html editor for Windows are encouraged to go to the Expression Community site and the Expression Web Forums to compare with other user’s experiences and sentiment.
One downside of using a non-commercial free version of Microsoft Expression Web is that no commercial support options exist nor will new features or bug fixes be implemented since Microsoft Expression Web development has been discontinued.
What could be potentially very valuable and interesting is if Microsoft were to open the Expression Web Code base and provide the source code to the community so that new features, bug fixes and security patches could be implemented. I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one, but, who knows? Stranger things have happened.
Support for Free Version of Expression Web
Like many other programs that are offered for free, support for Microsoft Expression Web free version is limited to a community-based, crowd-sourced support. For more information on Expression Web support, check out the Expression Community site and the Expression Web Forums.
The Free Version of Expression Web Available in Multiple Languages
Expression Web is available in multiple languages including German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese.
Download links for local language versions of expression Web are available below:
While this free Microsoft expression Web 4 approach may not work for all companies with web development projects, for small businesses and agencies with limited IT budgets, Microsoft Expression Web is the best free HTML editor for Windows in our opinion.
Microsoft Expression Web could also be a great tool for schools. Free commercial grade tools are always a great fit for cash-strapped school districts constrained by their already stressed operating budgets. Expression Web provides teachers and students with a free HTML editor for Windows so students can learn how to program websites and edit html.
If Windows is your development platform and need a free html editor, then definitely give Expression Web a try. Beside a little bit of time, what have you got to lose?