Flipboard's Social Magazine App Arrives on Windows 8.1

One of the tablet era's breakout apps finally hits Windows 8 in a sign that Microsoft's app gap may be narrowing.

Flipboard, a favorite among users and critics on both the Apple iOS and Android platforms, is finally available for Windows 8.1.

One of the iPad's early hits, the app aggregates news and online content into a customizable, social-enabled magazine format. Now, Windows 8.1 users, particularly those with tablets or touch-screen systems, can experience Flipboard's personalized approach to content consumption.

In a Nov. 15 blog post, Flipboard described the app as "a truly beautiful, custom experience with unique touches made just for the Microsoft platform." One of those touches includes Live Tile support, announced the company. "With Windows 8.1, you can pin Flipboard right to your Start screen where it will light up as a Live Tile which can be resized to be as big as you want or as small as you want," said Flipboard.

Apart from the main app, it also gives users a Start Screen shortcut to their favorites. Under Windows 8.1, users can "pin specific Flipboard magazines or sections to your Windows Start screen for quick access to your favorite reads," noted the company. It also employs gestures to provide quick access to actions and modules used to configure and personalize the app.

"Flipboard is your personalized magazine," said Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc in a separate blog post. In addition to stories and updates plucked from Facebook and Twitter, it delivers content from several notable publications. "By flipping over to 'Discover', you can customize your Flipboard with iconic sources like The New York Times, PEOPLE magazine, Fast Company and many more," he added.

The release fills one of the most glaring gaps in the Windows Store, which is a distant third behind Google Play and the Apple App Store.

In January, Apple revealed that its App Store had racked up 40 billion downloads since its inception in 2008, with half that number achieved in 2012 alone. "Developers have made over 7 billion dollars on the App Store, and we continue to invest in providing them with the best ecosystem so they can create the most innovative apps in the world," said Apple's Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet software and services, in a statement.

As of Oct. 22, the day that the iPad Air debuted, more than 60 billion apps had been downloaded from the Apple App Store, which boasts 1 million apps, including 475,000 apps that are "designed specifically for iPad," according to the company.

Microsoft is working to attract more app developers to its Windows Store. The company launched Windows Phone App Studio to help jump-start app creation on the platform and unified Windows and Windows Phone development. Microsoft has also enlisted Bing to improve the Windows Store's search and recommendation capabilities and announced Windows Store gift cards in time for the crucial holiday season.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...