The Times Thinks Outside the Browser

The Times Thinks Outside the Browser; Finally, a readable online newspaper. By Jack Shafer

About six months ago, I canceled my New York Times subscription. It wasn't an act of protest, nor was I canceling because, like so many moderns, I don't have time to read a newspaper. I stopped my home delivery because I had discovered in the newspaper's redesigned Web site a product much superior to the newsprint Times.

Fickle bastard that I am, I've now abandoned the Web version for the New York Times Reader, a new computer edition that entered general beta release today and is currently free. The Times Reader succeeds-as no other software has-in cramming a daily newspaper into a computer and making it 1) readable and 2) navigable. And if you're lucky enough to have once had an employer with deep pockets who bought you a $2,000 Tablet PC, the Times Reader is as portable as the paper version.

Times Reader shouldn't be confused with the Times Electronic Edition, that admirable failure that accurately bills itself as an "exact digital replica" of the newsprint Times, or any of the other static PDF-ish treatments newspapers and magazines have experimented with. Times Reader exploits new software from Microsoft Windows Presentation Foundation to do its work, and the less I say about WPF-a subset of Windows Vista, Microsoft's oft-postponed new operating system-the better. Suffice it to say that WPF and the Times-Microsoft collaboration has liberated the newspaper from the design constraints Web browsers place on designers.

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Monty Solomon
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