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RIP, Microsoft Reader

These days, I'm a fan and advocate of Amazon's superior Kindle eReading platform and it's amazing to watch it get better and better with each passing month. But years ago, one of the early innovators in the eReading space, believe it or not, was Microsoft. In 2000, the software giant launched its Microsoft Reader software for Windows and Windows Mobile, providing knowledge workers on the go with a pretty decent reading experience. And when Microsoft finally released its Tablet PC wares in 2002, the company had what Amazon, Apple and others wouldn't have until years later: A complete eReading platform for tablet devices.

Being quick to market is no guarantee of success of course. And Microsoft Reader was quickly overtaken by far more popular eReading platforms, not just Kindle but also Barnes & Noble's Nook and even Apple iBooks. So Microsoft announced this week that Reader will be put out to pasture, one year from this month. I'm embarrassed to say that I wasn't even aware it was still around, to be honest. (To be fair, it's not like the company ever made a version of this for Windows Phone.)


Microsoft is discontinuing Microsoft Reader effective August 30, 2012, which includes download access of the Microsoft Reader application from the Microsoft Reader web site. However, customers may continue to use and access the Microsoft Reader application and any .lit materials on their PCs or devices after the discontinuation on August 30, 2012. New content for purchase from retailers in the .lit format will be discontinued on November 8, 2011.

You may recall when Microsoft started pushing "sub-pixel rendering," a feature that eventually became known as ClearType. This technology was, of course, built into Microsoft Reader, providing a better-than-expected visual experience on low-resolution devices.

In fact, I even read an entire book on Microsoft Reader on a Pocket PC device. The book? H.G. Well's Time Machine.

RIP, Microsoft Reader.

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