NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Microsoft Corp. announced plans Monday to ship its much-anticipated technology to improve the readability of text on computer screens.
The company said the software, called Microsoft Reader, makes text appear on liquid-crystal display computer screens nearly as clear as paper. The technology could significantly improve the quality of book-length text documents on portable computers and e-books -- devices that store and display books in digital format.
"For publishers and authors, this means that electronic books and periodicals can now quickly grow to become a vast and lucrative new industry," said Dick Brass, Microsoft (MSFT) vice president of technology development.
Although e-books, such as the Rocket eBook and the SoftBook Reader, have yet to take off, Brass predicted that more than half of all book titles will be sold in electronic format in less than 15 years.
Microsoft Reader is based on the company's ClearType font-rendering technology, which features a copy-protection system that allows publishers to distribute titles with protection from piracy.
The company expects to ship Microsoft Reader for Windows-based PCs early next year. Microsoft made the announcement at a technology conference in San Francisco.
Microsoft shares fell 3/8 to 92-7/8 in midday trade Monday.