Microsoft Shows Off Vista Reader Apps

After much hoopla over Windows Presentation Foundation and its promise to create rich graphical user interfaces for Vista, not many of the demonstrated technologies have become reality.

Thus, the company set out this week with three media partners including Associated Newspapers, Hearst, and Forbes to leverage the power of WPF through a new digital reader application.

The actual application itself was developed by Microsoft, and each of the companies have customized it to fit their individual publications. The look is designed to approximate that of a newspaper, yet allowing for the interactivity that the Web provides.

The New York Times was one of the first to use this template, offering its reader to Vista beta testers last September. Microsoft will also make it available to other publishers through a free starter kit.

"We believe we're seeing the publishing industry changing," Windows Client Partner Marketing director Dave Wascha said. "Publishers today want to take advantage of increasing digital consumer demand, which is reflected by patterns of online readership and, in some cases, the loss of print readership."

These three companies are part of a second wave of beta testing to ensure that the application is ready to be released publicly for other publishers to use in their own applications.

"The goal is to make it easy for publications and their independent software vendors (ISVs) to duplicate our efforts without Microsoft having to be directly involved," Wascha continued.

Like a newspaper, the application also supports methods for publishers to include print-like advertising. However, unlike the paper, ads would become interactive, allowing the user to call an advertiser by clicking on a phone number, for example.

The applications are built to run on Windows Vista, although Windows XP SP2 users with the .NET Framework 3.0 installed would also be able to run the appliucations.

Wascha says he has seen a lot of interest from publishers, and he expects several new applications coming over the next few months.

"Longer term, we expect to work with all kinds of magazines, and we see this technology being applicable to textbook publishers as well, since one product can support both static print content and supplemental interactive content," he added.

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