Although the idea of onscreen browsers for print publications isn’t new,Microsoft and the New York Times have begun showing a prototype of Times Reader, a new online and offline interface to The New York Times based on Windows Vista the companies say will be available for download in “coming months.”
The Times Reader aims to enhance the onscreen reading experience using advanced display technology built into Vista: the Times Reader displays text in columns and formats to fit any screen. Users can also select any desired text size, and have content prioritized according to relevance to user’s preferences. The Times Reader also uses the same styles as the printed edition, helping “extend” the New York Times’ brand identity.
“The Times Reader is a powerful example of how companies can use software to forge new types of customer connections that span beyond the browser to the desktop and mobile devices,” said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft. “The New York Times is setting a standard not only for media organizations, but for all companies looking for new ways to interact with consumers through software.”
The Times Reader also provides for continuous updating of content when online, and provides for multimedia display and hyperlinks to related material. users can also clip and annotate items, display a slideshow of all the images in a particular issue, and keep a one-week local archive of New York Times content.
And, of course, the Times Reader carries ads which provide “the high-impact nature of print with the interactivity and metrics associated with the Web.” In other words: if you click, they know.
The companies said they plan to release the tools used to create Times Reader to other publishers so they can develop similar applications.