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Microsoft expanding Office's reach with 'Reader' for Windows 8 and 'Lens' for Windows Phone

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Microsoft is building another Office Windows 8-style application. Sources familiar with Microsoft's Office plans have revealed to The Verge that the app, codenamed Office Reader, is designed to be a cross format tool for consuming different types of content. During yesterday's employee-only company meeting, Microsoft's Kirk Koenigsbauer demonstrated the tool alongside a number of updates coming to Office in what he described as the "Gemini" wave.

Office Reader is a new modern Windows 8-style app that supports web pages, Office documents, PDFs, ebooks, and textbooks. At first launch it includes library, sources, and recommendations sections. Koenigsbauer demonstrated PDF support and the ability to reflow text to navigate through PDFs easily on a touchscreen. During a textbook demo, the ability to look at tables and interact with various parts of the content was also shown.

Bing integration and pen support for Office Reader

Perhaps the most interesting part is Microsoft's work with stylus support for Office Reader. Koenigsbauer showed a number of tools activated via a Surface Pro pen that allow users to circle, underline, highlight, and make notes on any document. The notes are then stored and listed in a side panel in each document. Microsoft's Office team has also partnered with Bing to augment document content with data from the search service. You can simply select a name or section of the document to then search and receive information in a right-hand sidebar. The results are displayed in a very similar way to Windows 8.1's integrated Bing hero search.

Koenigsbauer also demonstrated real-time document editing for the company's Office Web Apps, promising to bring the support to all of the apps. Microsoft is also readying a new OneNote Capture Service, which Koenigsbauer described as a "save it for later service" that works in the cloud. The service itself wasn't demonstrated, but it will work across PC, browsers, tablets, and phones. Alongside OneNote's Capture Service, the Office team is also developing an "Office Lens" for Windows Phone that lets you take a picture of a whiteboard and then automatically scan and convert it using optical character recognition. All of Microsoft's "Gemini" Office improvements are expected to roll out during 2014 and beyond.