If you’ve paid any attention to the tech press, you may be aware that Microsoft is releasing Windows 8 — and its ARM-based tablet cousin Windows RT — today.
While Internet Explorer 10 works wonderfully with Wikipedia as a regular web site, we wanted to provide a nicely integrated Wikipedia experience for Windows 8/RT users as well, and are proud to announce that our official Wikipedia app is available for free download in the Windows Store.
Wikipedia on Windows 8/RT uses common components from our Android and iOS apps, but fits in natively with Windows’ new styling. Wikipedia languages that provide RSS feeds of featured content display a tiled menu on the home screen:
The article reading view uses a multiple-column layout, which fits the tablet screen better than our current apps do on Android and iPad tablets:
This of course flips to scroll the other direction for right-to-left languages like Arabic and Hebrew.
The app integrates with Windows 8’s global search widget, which can be used both to search while in the application and to launch the app — select Wikipedia from the search providers when doing any search and you’ll pop over to us.
On a laptop or desktop device with a keyboard, you can simply start typing to begin a search, just like on Windows’ Start screen.
Like our Android phone application, Windows 8 supports a pluggable “sharing” system. With just a swipe and a tap, you can send a link to the article you’re reading to email, social networks, or note-taking apps to save them for later.
You can also share selected text in other apps to Wikipedia — for instance to do a quick lookup on a subject while you were reading a web page.
While Windows 8’s style prefers full-screen applications, you can also “snap” an app to the side of the screen. Some apps — even some of Microsoft’s — show a logo in this situation, but Wikipedia flips automatically to a single-column view, much like you’d see on a mobile phone. This is a great way to use Wikipedia as a reference while working on something else.
While you can quickly pan through an article by flicking across the screen, on large articles it’s nice to go straight to a particular section. Pinch-and-zoom out to display a section list, and select one to go back to reading mode.
And of course don’t forget to review us in the Windows Store. We read those comments and they help us fix bugs and prioritize new features.
Brion Vibber, Lead Software Architect