More Windows 8 features: PDF reader, Internet Explorer 'Immersive'

A day after revealing Microsoft's plans to bring its ribbon interface to Windows Explorer and a new Welcome Screen, Microsoft bloggers Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera have now said the Redmond company plans to ship its own PDF reader with Windows 8, as well as a redesigned and 'immersive' version of its Internet Explorer browser.

Windows 8 is currently in pre-beta form, and is not expected to be released for another two years. While it's unclear whether these leaks are truly that, based on copies of the software obtained by either blogger or more likely part of a controlled leak by Microsoft itself, the posts have provided an intriguing glimpse into the possible future of the Windows platform.

Interest in the news certainly seems high: the traffic generated by the blog posts appeared to be too much for the Within Windows site which these 'secrets' had been hosted on. As of Tuesday afternoon, a message on the site said the site had been suspended while Rivera looked to deal with 'CPU capacity issues.'

Microsoft apparently intends to ship its own PDF document viewer in the form of something called "Modern Reader." Following the design considerations that the rest of Windows 8 seems to follow, the application is light on user interface and clean.

It also uses Microsoft's new AppX application package type, which seems to be Redmond's next generation .exe executable. Thurrott blogged about AppX back in January, noting that .appx applications were built on the company's Silverlight platform and immersive in nature.

Since these applications appear similar to those in Windows Phone 7, the two bloggers have surmised that Windows 8 could bring a convergence in application development. This would essentially mean a developer could write a single application that would be easily portable to a multitude of different devices, not just the PC.

This immersive strategy extends to the version of Internet Explorer that is currently included with the pre-beta builds. While not currently an AppX application, it certainly follows the same design considerations.

The navigation and address bar hides itself, and navigation is placed to the lower right of the window, allowing for a full screen experience of the web page itself. History appears as panels, seemingly designed to be used as easily with a mouse as it would be on a touch-screen device.

Microsoft has made a big deal about making Windows 8 tablet-ready, and the new features of Windows 8 revealed on Tuesday seem to confirm this is where Redmond plans to go with its next generation operating system.

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