Microsoft bringing e-books direct to Windows
Microsoft is developing a Windows equivalent to Apple's news stand for digital magazines and books.
Although light on details, Microsoft engineers revealed that offering Windows users the ability to buy e-books and to subscribe to digital publications via their Microsoft accounts, rather than having to rely on services from companies like Amazon, is "definitely on the radar and something we're working on!"
Windows users currently have to use Amazon's Kindle app or the Nook app to buy and read e-books on their desktops, notebooks and Windows tablets.
The announcement was made during a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, organised to promote the official release of the Windows 8.1 desktop operating system update. The Microsoft engineers who took part in the Q&A session also revealed that work on said update started more than a year ago. "The work never stops -- we've been working on 8.1 since right after we shipped 8 last year -- we've been making improvements right up until recently."
When asked if users could expect Windows 8.2 the same time next year, the engineers said that the plan going forward was to release regular updates "to respond to customer feedback and improve and enrich the Windows experience."
In the past, Microsoft has been accused of not listening to customer needs and of being slow to respond to bug fixes and updates. However, outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer has pledged that the company has now developed a more sensitive ear and will be more proactive in listening to users.
A perfect example of this is the reintroduction of the Start button in Windows 8.1, something that was controversially omitted from Windows 8.
As well as reinstating the Start button, Windows 8.1 also features better search and personalisation settings, the ability to boot in desktop mode and much improved integration with SkyDrive and synchronization across devices on the same network. The update is free to download for consumers who already have a computer running Windows 8 and is available from the Windows Store.