Microsoft is a company that's had an impact on nearly every aspect of how we live our lives. If Bill Gates hadn't achieved his 1980 vision of "a computer on every desk and in every home", we'd be living in a very different world today.
However, since dropping the public website feature from SharePoint, one tech sphere that Microsoft has been noticeably absent from is website building software.
In fact, at the time of writing, there's no actively-maintained Microsoft website builder product.
But if you're a Windows fan, don't worry. There are still several Microsoft-backed or supported toolkits that you can use to create a great website.
Here are the five best Microsoft website builder options and alternatives:
- Wix (Partnered with Microsoft Office 365)
- GoCentral (Very easy to use)
- WebMatrix 3 (Code-based website builder)
- Microsoft Expression Web 4 (Visual website editing legacy software)
- FrontPage (The original Microsoft website builder)
Price from: free
Recommended for: those looking for up-to-date sites with included Office 365.
Because Wix has a partnership with Microsoft. In fact, if you're a Microsoft Office 365 subscriber, you can use your Office 365 account to sign in to Wix today.
Compared to alternative legacy Microsoft applications on this list, Wix is an extremely modern website builder.
Thanks to a drag-and-drop design and wide selection of included templates, it's also very easy to use.
That's not to say it's limiting though. You can still modify small page details using the 'Wix Code' function. And the Wix page editor allows you to position content wherever you like.
To start creating an Office 365 Wix website, all you need to do is enter the 'Public Website' section of the Office 365 'Admin center' and follow the links to the Office 365 Wix sign in page.
- Creates modern websites
- Subscription included with Office 365
- Great template selection
- Simple drag-and-drop design
- Not a Microsoft product
- Not ideal for advanced developers
Price from: $5.99/month
Recommended for: those looking for an easy website builder with Office 365 included.
That's why GoCentral, the GoDaddy website building tool, is included with Office 365 subscriptions.
GoCentral is designed to allow you to build a website in 60 minutes or less.
This makes it an ideal option to consider for Microsoft users who want to create a website in a hurry.
Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to GoCentral's speed.
It restricts the amount of control you have over your website layout much more noticeably than other Microsoft website builders.
All the same, GoCentral is worth a look as it's a modern website builder that provides support for eCommerce websites and includes a range of different templates.
- Create websites quickly
- Supports eCommerce sites
- Modern templates
- Not a Microsoft product
- More restrictive than other options
3. WebMatrix 3
Recommended for: users looking for free legacy website building software.
If you don't have any coding experience, this isn't the right platform to use.
However, if you're willing to put in the work, you'll learn a lot about website development by building a site with WebMatrix. To get started, check out some WebMatrix tutorials.
WebMatrix is free to download and use on any Windows machine. It includes a mobile website simulator and several different templates to build off. For an up to date version, consider Visual Studio Code which is a source code editor and the WebMatrix replacement product.
- Free to use
- Runs locally
- Not suitable for beginners
- No longer supported by Microsoft
Recommended for: those looking for a free visual Microsoft website editor.
This is a platform worth checking out if you're a Microsoft developer because it's designed specifically to support development frameworks like Microsoft Silverlight and ASP.NET.
Like WebMatrix, Microsoft Expression Web allows you to directly edit your website code. However, the big advantage this platform has over WebMatrix is that it also includes a visual editor.
Web developers who want to add multimedia files to their sites should also consider this program. A unique Expression Web feature is the ability to embed Photoshop files and Silverlight videos on your pages. Microsoft made Expression Web free to use when support for it ended, which is good news if you're on a tight budget.
- Great for working with specific multimedia formats
- A good choice for developers using Microsoft Silverlight
- Discontinued by Microsoft
- Web pages look noticeably dated
Recommended for: users working with legacy web pages.
Microsoft FrontPage is an offline HTML editor and was one of the first website builders to offer a What You See is What You Get (WYSIWYG) design, allowing users to preview how sites would appear while editing them.
As this is really a piece of internet history, it isn't suitable for modern website building.
You can use Microsoft SharePoint though, which is the contemporary descendant of FrontPage.
As I mentioned above, SharePoint no longer supports the creation of public websites. However, you can still use it to create website HTML files that can be uploaded to a separate web hosting service.
SharePoint is also great for internal enterprise team sites. Effectively, if you want an exclusively Microsoft-made and currently supported website builder, SharePoint is your only option.
- One of the original WYSIWYG website builders
- Lives on in the form of Microsoft SharePoint
- FrontPage is too out of date to build modern websites
Final Thoughts: Finding the Best Microsoft Website Builder
In the end, there's no single definitive Microsoft website builder. In the future, there's a good chance that Microsoft will introduce a new platform. However, for the time being, consider your personal needs when deciding if one of these options works for you:
- Wix is excellent for creating modern, responsive websites.
- GoCentral is extremely easy to use.
- WebMatrix is a good choice for experienced developers.
- Microsoft ExpressWeb is a visual webpage editor.
- Microsoft FrontPage is an important legacy application.
Which is your favorite Microsoft website builder option? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so comment below!
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