Windows 8 Surface
Credit: Image by SpicaGames on Flickr. Creative commons licence. Some rights reserved.
Many publishers have today launched apps for Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system, which are now available in the new Windows Store.

In this feature Journalism.co.uk looks at how the New York Times, Financial Times and Northern & Shell titles the Daily and Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, OK! Magazine, Star Magazine and New! Magazine have approached apps for Windows 8.

New York Times

The New York Times has worked in collaboration with Microsoft and has two offerings for Windows 8: a standalone app, plus it has its own channel within the Bing News app, which is pre-installed on all Windows 8 devices, including desktop computers and tablets such as the new Microsoft Surface.

The Bing News app will be "pre-installed on millions and millions of devices", Alexandra Hardiman, director of mobile products at New York Times, told Journalism.co.uk.

Launching the new "touchy-feely" Windows 8 operating system, Windows boss Steven Sinofsky reportedly said that more than a billion people use Windows, and there are currently 670 million Windows 7 users.

In terms of traditional desktop penetration, Windows is huge, no one can deny it. So we definitely wanted to make sure we had an incredible app experience there from day oneAlexandra Hardiman, New York Times
Asked how important Windows 8 might be as a platform for the New York Times, Hardiman said: "In terms of traditional desktop penetration, Windows is huge, no one can deny it. So we definitely wanted to make sure we had an incredible app experience there from day one."

Hardiman explained that the New York Times has done a lot of work "to really understand what drives behaviour and usage on tablets, and as soon as we knew what the Windows 8 opportunity was for tablet, we knew that we wanted to give that a shot".

She added: "Experimentation is a really big part of our DNA here. In terms of looking strategically at platforms where we think that we do have the potential to grow our audience and our subscribers, Windows 8 really hit all the criteria for us to go for it."

The New York Times has a metered subscription model and access to content within the app is bundled. Home delivery, full digital and 'web plus tablet' subscribers get full access; non-subscribers see a 'top news' section in both the New York Times app and the Bing News app.

The app, which was developed in-house with some external support, has a host of features designed for the platform.

New York Times Windows 8
  • Features
"We've learned over time that in order to build an app experience that really makes sense for the platform, you need to hook in to certain native features, ones that users come to know and love. And for us when we were thinking about Windows 8 there were a few that we knew we wanted to get in there," Hardiman said.

The app features include 'edge swiping', 'live tiles', an ability to 'pin' favourite sections for easy access, and 'snap mode', enabling users to have multiple app screens open at one time.

"The design is something that we thought about very carefully. We wanted to be truly responsive so that within a tablet, with a fixed screen size, it beautifully renders, but if you are on a desktop and you have a much larger screen size, it has a responsive layout that's truly gorgeous regardless of the screen size."
  • Advertising
The New York Times has also considered on advertising. "We wanted to make sure we did this in a very integrated way. We wanted to make sure that the advertising was both large and engaging and appealing to advertisers, but also not too intrusive for users and subscribers, and we came up with a very nice set of elegant ads to start."

The collaboration with Microsoft and inclusion in the Bing app is part of the outlet's 'NYT everywhere' strategy, announced earlier this year.

In June the New York Times launched on Flipboard for iPhone and iPad and the outlet has recently "totally redesigned" its Android smartphone app.

Financial Times

The Financial Times app, which we reported on back in May, is pre-installed on a number of Windows 8 devices, including Samsung Windows 8 tablet and PC models globally, plus VAIO devices from Sony in the UK and EU.

Access to FT content will be free via the app for the first month from launch, and as with the New York Times, subscribers will then get full access while non-subscribers will get a limited number of articles.

And with 25 per cent of traffic from mobile and 15 per cent of subscriptions for FT.com from mobile, smaller devices are "increasingly important" for the publisher, Chris Smith, Financial Times product manager, told Journalism.co.uk.

"We really see Windows 8 as an important new plank in that mobile strategy," he added. "Microsoft and Windows are an enormous company, have an enormous user base and we think that Windows 8 will be increasingly important for us as a platform."

The new native Windows 8 app is built on the same core code as the Financial Times apps for other devices, including its web app for Apple devices and its Android app, Smith added.

"One of the great things about Windows 8 from our point of view is that the browser on Windows 8 devices, the Internet Explorer 10 browser, supports the quality of user experience that we want to be able to offer our customers.

"It means we've been able to take that core code, port it across for Internet Explorer, wrap it up as a native app and put it in the Windows app store."

Financial Times Windows 8 (460 x 280)
  • Features
By "wrapping" the core code for Windows 8, the Financial Times team has been able to create native functionality.

The app offers a 'live tile', which sits on the start screen, the first screen people see when a device is switched on, and that has scrolling news from the outlet.

"There's a great bit of functionality on Windows 8 devices that lets you have different apps open at the same time which means you can sit and watch markets data updating while working on a document in the other pane."
  • Maintaining contact
It's very important to the FT that we maintain a close relationship with our customers, so having the freedom to do that is one of the fundamental things that affects our decision as to whether to be in an app store or noChris Smith, Financial Times
The Financial Times, which has also today launched a FT Chinese app for Windows 8, famously withdrew its original app for iPhone and iPad from the Apple App Store as it prevented the news title from accessing audience data. The Financial Times launched a web app for iOS devices bypassing Apple and avoiding the 30 per cent levvy.

The relationship is very different with Microsoft, as Smith explained. "Microsoft makes no demands on any of its customers in the Windows Store for a percentage of subscriptions. And also Microsoft doesn't insist that you use their payment system at all within the store.

"It's very important to the FT that we maintain a close relationship with our customers, so having the freedom to do that is one of the fundamental things that affects our decision as to whether to be in an app store or not."

Another approach


Northern & Shell, which publishes the Daily and Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, OK! Magazine, Star Magazine and New! Magazine, has opted for a very different approach than the New York Times and Financial Times.

It has created digital replicas, using PageSuite technology to provide page-turning - or rather page-swiping - apps.

Chris Took, sales director, told Joournalism.co.uk the digital edition are exact replicas "of exactly what you would be able to purchase as a physical copy in the news stand, and it's essentially about delivering that content to as wide an audience as possible.

While the publications are replica editions at launch, videos, interactives and other rich media content can be added, Took explained.

For more on Windows 8, which includes interviews with Chris Took, Chris Smith and Alexandra Hardiman, listen to this Journalism.co.uk podcast:

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