REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday introduces its newest Microsoft Reader — software used to make reading from computer screens easier on the eyes — to its largest audience ever.
For the first time, the software giant is releasing its Reader for users of personal computers, not just for Microsoft's line of handheld Pocket PCs, which were introduced back in March.
To support the new "eBook" initiative, Barnesandnoble.com, the online arm of the bookseller chain, will begin selling 2,000 titles in the Microsoft format, with another 150 titles added every week.
Slate magazine, a part of the Microsoft Network of Web sites, has also experimented with the format. Microsoft officials said that the agreement with Barnesandnoble.com is not exclusive, and that other companies may be involved in Tuesday's launch.
Barnesandnoble.com has a limited number of titles for eBooks available for free download, including books by Michael Crichton, classics by Charles Dickens and Emily Bronte, and a handful of rare Star Trek paperbacks.
Microsoft Reader incorporates the company's ClearType technology, designed to make reading on a screen easier on a person's eyes. The technology takes a single "pixel" — the tiny dots that make up a computer screen — and projects more than one color onto it, splitting the pixel and making the text less blocky on screen.
The book files will be sold online and downloaded to a customer's computer. Microsoft's partners will have the option of using digital rights management software with the book files, restricting the number of times they can be copied.
Time Warner's online publishing venture, iPublish, will also support the Microsoft Reader. IPublish will be made public later this year. Penguin Books, Simon & Schuster and other publishers have also voiced support for Microsoft's initiative.