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Microsoft hopes e-book software is a best seller

The company unveils its first software for making on-screen text legible enough for electronic books in a bid to jump-start a small market.

Microsoft wants to make text on a computer screen as legible as a printed page.

Today at the Seybold publishing conference in San Francisco, the software giant rolled out Microsoft Reader, a new PC software application that the company claims improves the quality of on-screen text to make it easier to read.

Microsoft Reader is the first product to include the company's ClearType font-rendering technology. Developed by Microsoft Research, ClearType enhances font resolution on liquid-crystal or flat-panel displays to deliver a paper-like presentation, the company claims.

In addition, Microsoft includes a copy-protection system that allows publishers to distribute titles with protection from piracy and illegal copying.

Microsoft Reader is scheduled to be available for Windows operating system-based PCs and laptops early next year.

Microsoft first demonstrated ClearType last November. The technology reduces the tendency of words to become bolder as they grow in size. ClearType is expected to help drive the emerging e-book market.