Almost two years after first demonstrating the technology, Microsoft has finally released ClearType software for Windows desktops and laptops. Dubbed Microsoft Reader, the product delivers eBooks to users of Windows 95 and later, though you will need an LCD screen to fully take advantage of the ClearType display technology. A version was released with handheld PocketPC devices earlier this year. Microsoft has also announced a partnership with Barnes & Noble booksellers that creates an eBookstore on barnesandnoble.com. And major publishers such as Simon & Schuster, Time Warner Books, and Random House are now making titles available in Microsoft Reader format; over 100 free eBooks are currently available as well.
"The availability of Microsoft Reader, which is clearly the best software for extended reading on any computing device, combined with the opening of Barnes & Noble.com's innovative new eBookStore, which will offer of hundreds of great titles for Microsoft Reader, means consumers finally have the opportunity to realize the full potential of eBooks," says Dick Brass, the vice president for Technology Development at Microsoft.
The ClearType technology used in Microsoft Reader approaches the clarity of paper-based text using a sub-pixel rendering method that effectively triples the perceived resolution of the display on LCD screens. Microsoft Reader sports a very simple, book-like user interface that provides instant access to eBook bookstores, your private eBook library, annotation capabilities, and other features. Curiously, the dictionary feature that was available during the Microsoft Reader beta is not available in the public release. Microsoft Reader is available for free from the Microsoft Web site