Information Today
Volume 17, Issue 9 ē October 2000
Microsoft Pushes Products and Alliances in E-Book Market

Microsoft Corp. has announced that it has made the Windows version of Microsoft Reader for desktop PCs and laptop computers available as a free download at http://www.microsoft.com/reader. Microsoft and barnesandnoble.com also announced the opening of the barnesandnoble.com eBook--Store for Microsoft Reader. In addition, major publishers, including Simon & Schuster, Time Warner Books, and Random House, are making best-selling titles available in Microsoft Reader format through a variety of promotions offered at http://www.bn.com.

An early version of Microsoft Reader was offered in pre-loaded form on the Pocket PC in May 2000. This new version runs on Windows 95 and higher platforms and includes capabilities to purchase e-books directly through bn.com. Also available is a plug-in tool, Read in Microsoft Reader, that lets Microsoft Word 2000 users convert documents into Microsoft Reader files.

Microsoft Reader includes ClearType, a display technology that reportedly improves on-screen font resolution. It also includes tools for bookmarking, highlighting, and annotating the text of a book, and encryption for copyright protection. The format complies with the emerging Open eBook standard.

At the Seybold San Francisco 2000 publishing event in August, Microsoft Corp. also announced that Amazon.com has selected Microsoft Reader as the preferred format for Amazon.comís future e-book store, which it hopes to launch by the end of the year. Under a strategic alliance, Microsoft will create a customized Amazon.com version of Microsoft Reader, giving consumers the ability to purchase and download e-book titles directly from Amazon.com and read them in Microsoft Reader format.

Neither of the e-book store deals is exclusive. barnesandnoble.com also sells e-books in Rocket eBook and Glassbook formats, and Amazon will likely choose to sell in Adobe PDF and in the format promoted by Gemstar-TV Guide International, Inc. (owner of the Rocket eBook and the SoftBook readers).

Source: Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA, 425/882-8080; http://www.microsoft.com.


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