Microsoft, The New York Times Release Times Reader

Times Reader screenshot

The New York Times has signed a deal with Microsoft to create an individual application for reading the newspaper’s content on a computer. The tool, dubbed Times Reader, was launched on Friday in prototype form and takes advantage of the Windows Presentation Foundation that will ship in Vista.

It is Vista’s WPF display technologies that will especially allow Times content to be automatically adjusted for any screen size, with users able to personalise font size and content relevance. The application will make use of the same font styles as the print edition of the New York Times.

“The Times Reader is a great next step in melding the readability and portability of the newspaper with the interactivity and immediacy of the Web,” said New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. The program can be used online and offline by downloading stories to the local computer.

Microsoft helped in the development of Times Reader, which it hopes will serve as a starting point for other companies looking to take advantage of the new capabilities coming in Windows Vista. The Redmond company plans to publish a software development kit in the near future for the purpose.

“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.”

A free download of the Times Reader is expected to be available in the coming months. Although Microsoft has back-ported the new Windows Presentation Foundation to XP, the application will likely require Windows Vista Beta 2, due out at the end of next month.

The following are among the features of the Times Reader:

– The capacity to annotate and clip documents
– A News in Pictures feature that creates a slide show of all the images in a day’s issue, which also acts as a gateway to the printed content that correlates with the image
– A locally stored seven-day archive

For advertisers the prototype offers another creative platform to reach readers. It combines the high-impact nature of print with the interactivity and metrics associated with the internet.