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.
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.
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.
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.
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.