Microsoft Reader

Microsoft Reader is a discontinued Microsoft application for reading e-books, first released in August 2000, that used its own .LIT format. It was available for Windows computers and Pocket PC PDAs. The name was also used later for an unrelated application for reading PDF and XPS files, first released with Windows 8 - this app was discontinued in 2018.

Microsoft Reader (E-book app)
Initial releaseAugust 2000; 22 years ago (2000-08)
Final release
2.1.1 (Windows 98, NT 4.0, 2000, Me, XP) 2.6.1 (Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, Windows Vista (with Origami Experience Pack or Touch Pack))
2.4.2 (Windows Mobile 6)
Operating systemWindows
TypeE-book reader
LicenseProprietary freeware
Microsoft Reader (Document app)
Initial releaseOctober 2012; 10 years ago (2012-10)
Operating systemWindows (8/8.1/10), Windows 10 Mobile
TypeDocument viewer
LicenseProprietary freeware

E-book ReaderEdit

Microsoft Reader file format
Filename extension
Developed byMicrosoft
Initial releaseAugust 2000; 22 years ago (2000-08)
Latest release
August 2012; 10 years ago (2012-08)
Extended from.chm

The e-book reader was available for download from Microsoft as a free application for computers running Windows and on PDAs running Pocket PC, where it has been built into the ROM since Windows CE 3.0.[1] Microsoft Reader was compatible with Windows Mobile, but was not supported on newer Windows Phone 7 devices.

Microsoft Reader displays books in the .LIT (shortened from "literature") format, an extension of the Microsoft Compressed HTML Help format to include DRM.[2] These e-books can be purchased and downloaded from online stores.

The notable features of Microsoft Reader are ClearType for increased readability on small screens, highlighting and doodling designed for quick note-taking, text notes, and searching. The PC version also has an optional plug-in for text-to-speech, enabling books to be read out loud.

Companies such as Barnes & Noble and partnered with Microsoft to provide books in the format when released in 2000.[3]

In August 2011, Microsoft announced they were discontinuing both Microsoft Reader and the use of the .lit format for ebooks at the end of August 2012, and ending sales of the format on November 8, 2011.[4]


Operating systems Latest version Release date
Windows 95 1.5 2000-08-08
Windows NT 4.0, 98, 2000, Me 2.1.1 2003-06-26
Windows XP, 2003, Vista (with Origami Experience Pack or Touch Pack), Home Server, 2008 2.6.1 2007-07-10
Pocket PC 2000 1.0 (in ROM) 2000-04-19
Pocket PC 2002 2.4 2005-03-24
Windows Mobile 2003, 2003 SE, 5.0 2.4.1 2005-11-23
Windows Mobile 6.0, 6.1 2.4.2 2009-09-10

Copy protectionEdit

Books accessible by Reader can be protected, or unprotected, only allowing access to protected books if the user has activated the software. This can be accomplished by registering using their Passport account. Only six Reader installations can be activated per account, after which, Microsoft requires the user to request further activations.

Creating .LIT filesEdit

Read in Microsoft Reader is an add-on, available from Microsoft, that can be used with Microsoft Word (versions 2000, 2002 and 2003) to create .LIT extension e-books.[5] This software is not fully compatible with Office 2007.

Version historyEdit


Version Operating systems Release date Major changes
1.5 Windows 95, NT 4, 98, 2000, Me 2000-08-08 Initial version for desktops
2.0 Windows NT 4, 98, 2000, Me, XP 2001-10-03 Major overhaul
Supports premium eBooks
2.5 Windows XP 2002-06-25 Support for Tablet PC
Pen and Ink features
2.1.1 Windows NT 4, 98, 2000, Me, XP 2003-06-26 Security update
2.6 Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, Vista Ultimate Edition (with Origami Experience Pack or Touch Pack) 2007-07-09 Audible support for newer audio formats
Security and performance updates

Pocket PCEdit

Version Operating systems Release date Major changes
1.0 Windows Mobile 2000 2000-04-19 Initial version for Pocket PCs.
2.0 Windows Mobile 2002 2001-10-03 Compatible with Windows Mobile 2002
Major overhaul
Supports premium eBooks[clarification needed]
2.2.1 Windows Mobile 2002, 2003 N/A
2.2.2 2003 Compatible with Windows Mobile 2003
2.2.3 2004-02-04 Fixes activation problems
2.3 Windows Mobile 2002, 2003, 2003 SE 2004-07-13 Compatible with Windows Mobile 2003 SE
2.4 2005-03-24
2.4.1 Windows Mobile 2003, 2003 SE, 5, 6.0 2005-11-23 Compatible with Windows Mobile 5 and 6
2.4.2 Windows Mobile 2003, 2003 SE, 5, 6.0, 6.1 2009-09-10 Compatible with Windows Mobile 6.1

Read in Microsoft ReaderEdit

Version Operating systems Release date Major changes
1.1 Windows NT 4, 98, 2000, Me, XP 2001-09-04 Initial version with support for Word 2000, 2002
1.1.3 Windows NT 4, 98, 2000, Me, XP, 2003, Vista, Home Server, 2008 2006-02-21 Conversion support for Word 2003. Supports Word 2000, 2002, 2003. Incompatible with Office 2007

Software Development KitEdit

Version Operating systems Release date Major changes
1.5 Windows NT 4, 98, 2000, Me, XP, 2003, Vista, Home Server, 2008 2001-10-04 Initial version

Text to SpeechEdit

Version Operating systems Release date Major changes
1.0 Windows NT 4, 98, 2000, Me, XP, 2003, Home Server 2005-05-19 Initial version

Third partyEdit

Notable third-party apps and tools to convert and read MS .LIT format on various devices include:

  • Calibre; an open source e-book library manager that runs on many environments; it can convert .LIT format files
  • Lexcycle Stanza (discontinued); a freeware program for reading eBooks; can read .LIT format, supports iOS.

Document viewerEdit

In 2012, Microsoft released a Microsoft Reader Metro-style app with Windows 8 for reading documents in PDF, XPS and TIFF formats. Reader was included in Windows 8.1 and was a free download from the Windows Store for Windows 10. Support for Windows 10 Mobile ended in 2016 in favor of opening PDF documents within Microsoft Edge browser.[6] Microsoft discontinued the application in February 2018, as PDF reading functionality was moved to Edge on desktops as well.[7]


  1. ^ "Rugged Handhelds and PDAs". Rugged PC 2000-04-19. Retrieved 2021-12-02.
  2. ^ Salomon, David; Motta, Giovanni; Bryant, David (CON) (2009). Handbook of Data Compression (5th ed.). Springer. ISBN 978-1-84882-902-2.
  3. ^ "B&N, RH and S&S in deal with Microsoft | the Bookseller".
  4. ^ "Microsoft is discontinuing Microsoft Reader effective August 30, 2012, which includes download access of the Microsoft Reader application from the Microsoft Reader website."Microsoft Reader Archived 2005-08-22 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Read in Microsoft Reader
  6. ^ "Microsoft to end PDF Reader development, wants you to use Edge -".
  7. ^ Microsoft to discontinue its PDF Reader App in February 2018, Windows Latest, 2017-11-21