Microsoft managed to keep a couple of news nuggets under wraps until the actual launch of the product on October 22. The most interesting to me was that Amazon is working on a Kindle reader application that will work on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 machines.
The beta of the Kindle reader will be released internationally some time in November, said Laurent Selier, Senior Product Line Manager for Kindle, who was demoing the app at the Windows 7 launch event in New York City today. Users interested in notification about the beta can sign up at Amazon's Kindle for PC site.
The beta and the final version of the app will be available for free and will allow users to sync their downloaded books and other content across iPhones, Windows PCs and Kindle devices.
(I asked Selier if Amazon was planning to release a Windows Mobile version of the Kindle reader any time soon and he said he had nothing to say. But Amazon did announce today that it is working on a version for the Blackberry and Macs, as well.)
Microsoft and Amazon are showing the Kindle reader running on a large screen touch-enabled device, and said they think users would be interested in viewing certain kinds of content -- like text books and cookbooks -- in this way. The more obvious and natural platform for the Windows-based Kindle reader would be a laptop, netbook or Tablet PC. But I'd think most PCs would be too heavy and hot for me to want to make them my main e-book reading device.
Amazon, unsurprisingly, isn't positioning the Windows-based Kindle app as a replacement for its Kindle device. Instead, as it does currently with the iPhone, it is positioning it as a complement to a Kindle reader. That said, users don't have to have a Kindle to use the Windows Kindle app. All they need is an Amazon account.
The Windows Kindle app is being optimized to run on Windows 7 and will support multi-touch and JumpLists. Users won't be able to annotate their Kindle content on Windows PCs in this beta; they will be able to view their annotations made from iPhones and Kindle devices on the Windows version, however. There also is currently no text-to-speech functionality in the Windows version of the Kindle reader.
I asked Microsoft officials whether they were talking to Barnes & Noble about the creation of a similar "Nook" e-reader app for Windows and was told there was nothing to say at this time, but that Microsoft is always talking to a variety of companies about new ways to take advantage of the Windows platform.