Tag Archives: Microsoft

Ebook news digest: phone as an e-reader, the history of qwerty, writing advice from Steve Jobs

2019-05-01

News on ebooks, writing and reading

fonts on mobile phone, digiday
Actually, reading books on a phone is great

The Next Web journalist admits that ebooks are more convenient to read than print books. The key factor was the realization that a phone can be used as an e-reader. Here is the story.

Now Is the Golden Age of Travel Writing

Gary Arndt argues that every travel writer should have a web site. This is because it is not only for building the personal brand, but actually making money with the web site.

Steve Jobs Knew How to Write an Email. Here’s How He Did It

The article looks at an email message written by Apple’s Steve Jobs, analyzing why it is so convincing. It is a good lesson for all of us.

The best protective cases for the Kindle e-reader

I managed to brake a tablet and a phone before I realized I should have bought a case for the devices at the same time I bought the gadgets. Both devices hit the asphalt or concrete while they were assisting me on the road. This article shows 12 different types of cases for the Kindle ereader, so you are likely to find the one you want and need.

Travel guide to Valencia, Spain

Valencia in Spain is a major Mediterranean cruise ship destination, but it is a big city that attracts the majority of visitors via air and road from other regions of Spain, Europe and the US.

Digital Nomad Events 2019 across the World

Digital nomads can be lonely people if they are traveling from one country to another, staying a few weeks or few months in a place at a time. Now, special events are organized for nomads where they can meet other traveling professionals. This article lists the major events.

The truth about the QWERTY keyboard

New Scientist wants to debunk the most renowned history of the Qwerty keyboard (to avoid jamming of arms, most used letters were separated by rarely used letters). Several inventors were involved in the development of the typewriter in the early days of the machine, and it looks like there was no definite motive or reason why Qwerty was the result.

Microsoft kills off the book store you probably didn’t know it had

Microsoft was one the pioneers of ebook marketing in the heydays of the internet bubble 20 years ago, but closed the business in a couple of years. I remember this, because I bought a couple of ebooks from Microsoft then, and never recovered my money even when the ebooks wouldn’t open anymore. The DRM didn’t work after the bookstore was closed. Now, Microsoft is closing its ebook store once more, but this time, customers get their money back.

Someone has to write the scripts for all those video games

2018-11-18

Many writers apply their skills and knowledge to various media, writing different types of texts, articles or manuscripts. Even today’s most successful author JK Rowling writes young adult and suspense fiction (and who knows what else, because she has already used a pseudonym). As computer games have become more like movies complete with storylines that could originate from books, how many writers have already tried writing scripts for video games?
Assassin's Creed Odyssey by UbisoftAssassin’s Creed Odyssey by Ubisoft.

If you haven’t thought of writing for the games industry, you are not alone. Writing a script for a video game is a complex task that requires more work than, for instance, a movie script.

There are similarities in movie and game scripts: the world where the story takes place must be described, characters created, dialogue established, action described, and plot line invented. The thing that requires additional work in video scripts is choices. The characters can decide what they do next. Every possible decision path must be determined in the game script.

An experienced script writer describes the process of authoring a game in seven steps. The potential complexity of choices can be presented in flowcharts as these samples show.

Why writers may consider writing for the games industry right now? Until now, large, resource-hungry video games could be played on game consoles alone. This is changing. Google and Microsoft have introduced connectivity technologies that allow streaming advanced games via the Internet to computers that only need a web browser to run the game. This can attract new audiences from a wide variety of age groups to play games, expanding the variety of games from action to other genres.

Google Project Stream

Google Project Stream is in beta test at the moment, but it is possible to ask for an invite if your computer’s IP address is in the U.S. The Project Stream provides Assassin’s Creed Odyssey console game to your browser. The technical requirements are simple: the latest Chrome browser, a computer, and a minimum of 25 Mbps internet connection.

Business Insider tried out the Odyssey game by Project Stream, and the conclusion from the test was positive. They played the game on three computers (two powerful and one ordinary laptop) that had different types of network connections.

The game worked well on all three laptops. On two powerful computers, “Project Stream was essentially flawless”. Only the ordinary laptop that had the slowest connection experienced minor glitches.

This is impressive. Perhaps the Chrome browser and Project Stream do some proprietary tricks together to keep data rapidly flowing from the game server to the browser?

Microsoft Project Xcloud

Google Project Stream is not the only cloud gaming service available. Microsoft is already trialing Project Xcloud service that has multi-device support as its key feature.

The Microsoft video shows how Xcloud games run on tablets and phones:

The Sony PlayStation Now and Nvidia GeForce Now provide games via the internet as well.

How to read ebooks without installing any additional applications on your PC

2018-03-26

Recently, one of my neighbors asked how she could read the ebook she had bought from a store. She had managed to download the book, but there was no way to open it. As many of us do in a hurry to start reading a new book, she had simply ignored all the prompts to download an ebook reader application to her device. Well, the problem was quickly solved once we installed a reader application for her. Microsoft has taken a step towards easier ebook experience by including ebook reading into the Edge browser application.

The thing is that every Windows 10 computer comes with the Microsoft Edge browser application that includes the feature to read ebooks.

ebook table of content in Mircosoft Edge browser
If your Microsoft Edge can not open EPUB ebooks, ensure your system has received all the security and feature updates from Microsoft.

This is how you can instantly verify if Microsoft Edge browser on your computer can open ebooks.

Open File Explorer.
Locate the EPUB ebook you want to open on your device.
Right-click on the EPUB file.
Select Open with.
Select Microsoft Edge. If it is not on the list, click Choose another app, and look for Edge.

The ebook should open in a tab in the Microsoft Edge application. If the book doesn’t open, the chances are that you are trying to read a copy-protected (DRM-locked) ebook. The rule of thumb is that ebooks bought and downloaded from a bookstore are copy-protected (you can always read them in the app the store provides), but free ebooks are not locked (and can be read in any EPUB ebook app). Kindle ebooks are a different story altogether, but the rule of thumb is that you can read them only in Kindle devices and apps.

In addition to non-DRM, not copy-protected ebooks you can download ebooks from the Microsoft Store to the Edge browser. It is still early days for ebooks on the Microsoft Store, which means that ebooks are not yet available in many countries at all.

Once you have an ebook in the Microsoft Edge, you can use the following useful features as you read a book.

Open the table of contents and jump to a page you want. Click the leftmost icon on the black bar above the book.
read aloud (TTS) in Microsoft Edge
Let the application read the book aloud to you. Click the loudspeaker icon on the black bar above the book.
highlight, make notes in ebook in Windows 10 Edge browser
Highlight or underline text. Select a section of text, and a small tool window opens up. You can also write notes that are attached to the position you selected.
change ebook font size in Windows 10 reader app Edge
Change font and font size. Choose A-icon, and you will see the options.
search any text in ebook in Edge browser EPUB reader in Windows 10
Search any text in a book. Click the magnifying glass and type your keywords.
Bookmark pages.

Especially, read aloud is a useful new feature in an ebook reading app. You can turn an EPUB ebook into an audiobook simply by asking the Edge browser to read it to you. At the moment, three voices are available for choosing which one pleases your ears the most. Edge can read web pages as well, so you can listen to articles you discover on the internet.

The five tech giants are also media business giants that dominate the distribution of ebooks

2017-10-23

Five tech giants, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are marketing products that most of us use daily – some people perhaps use them most of the hours they are awake. Each of these tech giants is – one way or another – a media company. Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft sell digital media products from their online stores. Facebook and Google are categorized as publishers in a number of markets, because they distribute news and information to the public. All these companies have enormous powers to promote or block items and products.
Microsoft ebook store in the Edge web browser
Facebook reports it has more than two billion active users on its social media service. About 45 percent of American adults get news from Facebook. Although Facebook doesn’t admit it is a media company, that’s how it is treated, for instance, within EU.

Google’s search market share in the U.S. approaches 86 percent, whereas in Europe it is over 90 percent. Google’s primary business is advertising, but the Play Store features music, movies and ebooks as well.

About 43 percent of all online retail sales in the U.S. last year went through Amazon. The vast majority of ebook sales in the U.S. is conducted by Amazon.

Microsoft has a dominant position in PC software with its Windows software, and Apple has grown to the most valuable company in the world because of its computers and mobile devices that customers are ready to pay premium for.

Curiously enough, four companies out of five tech giants are also booksellers. Only Facebook hasn’t opened an ebook store.
Amazon Kindle Store
Amazon, of course, gets the credit for facilitating the ebook’s breakthrough into a mass market product with the Kindle and low ebook prices. The company is the undisputable leader of the ebook business in the world. Not only has Amazon a role as a book retailer, but the company is also a book publisher, translation firm and a marketer.

Apple was the pioneer of music downloads with the iTunes Store where people could find MP3 songs for their iPods and PCs. Ebooks were introduced to the iBooks store along with the iPad tablet.

Google started scanning printed books from libraries because the company wanted to archive and index all the information in the world. Many years and legal problems later, Google has agreements with publishers to sell their ebooks at the Play Store.

Microsoft has marketed applications and games in its digital download store, and has added ebooks to the store as well, although the market coverage is limited at the moment. The new Edge web browser can open EPUB books without any additional plugins or tricks.
Google Play Books store for ebooks

What do the tech giants’ media businesses mean for ebooks?

If we think about the global ebook business, the tech giants dominate the distribution of digital products to customers. Only Kobo has the global reach that is anywhere close to the giants, but Kobo probably does not have the customer base to generate the same amount of sales as the tech giants.

In every market, local online bookstores compete against the global giants. In many markets, local booksellers may have a larger market share than the giants. Tolino in Central Europe, for instance, is a strong brand and sales channel for ebooks in the German speaking part of the world.

For tech giants, ebooks are not necessarily the core products they will bet their futures on. Tech companies’ priorities are in software, cloud services, hardware, artificial intelligence, and in other new technologies. Amazon is the only company that (at the moment) is an online retailer first, and technology supports that goal.
Apple iBooks Store
Let’s take a look at other types of digital media products and which companies dominate those markets. Online movies and television shows are streamed and downloaded from Netflix and Hulu. Music is discovered and streamed to homes and mobile devices from Spotify and Pandora.

Only ebooks are purchased from tech giants. Isn’t it a bit strange?

Perhaps ebook subscription services, like Scribd, 24 Symbols, Storytel, Bookmate will change the landscape of distribution of ebooks one day. Perhaps Kobo is able to compete against the giants in the future. Perhaps a group of investors believes there is a place for an independent global bookstore and establishes one that is in line with the interests of the ebook trade.