Wikipedia for Windows 8 Review

The Wikipedia app in Windows 8 is a big change from what you might find on the site. Not only are there plenty of features that take advantage of the Windows 8 interface, but you can go so far as to pin specific articles to your Start screen for quick and easy access later on.

I decided to take the Wikipedia app (made by the Wikimedia Foundation) for a spin ahead of the big release of Windows 8. For the most part, it looks a lot more polished than the site, and the quick search feature makes it incredibly easy to find and read about any subject covered on the main site.

Formatting

There are some high and low points when it comes to site formatting. If the primary image has a long caption, that caption will carry over to the second column of the magazine-like arrangement. On some articles (such as Chris Pirillo’s profile pictured above), it creates a white space that could easily be filled in by something else.

When you drag the application to a side panel, everything seems to snap into place and you get an incredibly cool (and useful) resource along the side of the screen. This makes one of the more important features of Windows 8 that much more useful.

Features

With a right-click, you can pin any page to your Start screen for instant access just by clicking your mouse. It’s really quite useful if you have pages that you frequently check for whatever reason.

You can also change the language of a page, open it in a browser of your choice, and search the article for a specific line.

Want to search Wikipedia? Just start typing. No joke. Just type whatever it is you’re interested in and hit enter. The app will complete the search for you and bring up the article of your choosing.

Front Page

The front page of the Wikipedia app is where discovery comes in. Featured photographs, recently changed articles, featured articles, and an “On this Day” section, which gives you a quick history lesson on historical events of the present day, are all a part of the front page experience. It’s kind of like a quick daily digest of interesting bits of information. Not so much a newsy experience, but still something that could be worth checking out during your lunch break.

Final Thoughts

Wikipedia did a good job with the Windows app. Despite some formatting issues in fullscreen mode, the ability to grab an article and throw it into a side panel makes cross-referencing very easy for anyone researching a subject and looking for a good starting point. Cited references are available at the bottom of each page, so you’re never left wondering if Wikipedia actually got it right.

This is a free app, and one worth downloading as soon as you get Windows 8 installed.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • Adam Smith

    Thanks Ryan for a really helpful review
    Yours is one of the first articles on the internet which actually provides an example of an application that is useful on Windows 8
    Your article cuts beneath the superficial previews of the WIndows 8 that are far easier to find
    Any review of Windows 8 is actually useless unless it answers the question:
    “How is Windows 8 an improvement on what is already working for me, ie Windows 7 or even Windows XP”
    or for new buyers: “Why would anyone buy Windows 8 when Windows 7 works pretty well”
    Until now I have been highly dubious of the worth of Windows 8 and touch in particular
    You are giving us what we actually need – comments about usability, and Windows 8 applications which actually make Windows 8 rise to the well established competition
    I may just see the light with touch and Windows 8, possibly not, but your article did shift my perceptions just that little bit more towards the touch interface
    However, its only once Microsoft Office is truly touch friendly, including the ribbon, then I will be convinced ! Regards to all