Pulse, the popular news app for iPad, iPhone and Android, released a new version of its service for the web today, working with Microsoft to provide a glimpse of the potential for the new Internet Explorer 10 browser, particularly on touch-enabled Windows machines.

Microsoft points to the site as an example of apps transitioning back to the web without compromising functionality. The trend could prove key for the company as it attempts to take some of the momentum away from the iPad with upcoming Windows 8 tablets.

The site was built in HTML5 and works across a variety of browsers and on non-touch screens. However, the companies say the experience is better on Internet Explorer, running more smoothly by using the browser to take full advantage of the computer’s underlying hardware.

IE10 also enables unique commands on touch devices, such as a two-finger side swipe to pull up a reading pane in the Pulse site. Pinching the screen not only zooms out or in but also rearranges the tiles to show more or less content to the reader.

A two-finger swipe brings up a reading list in the Pulse web site. (Click to enlarge.)

“What you’re seeing now is those app experiences are wanting to expand and get to the ultimate reach that the web can enable,” said Microsoft’s Ryan Gavin.

The companies worked on the project with Pixel Lab, the Seattle-area development shop that also brought Cut the Rope to the web.

Even though Pulse started out as a mobile app, the San Francisco-based startup sees benefits in the web-based approach, with the ability to make changes on the fly in response to usage patterns, without going through a multi-week approval process.

“For a company that’s driven by design, like Pulse, we believe in iteration and quickly learning from users,” said Pulse CEO Akshay Kothari, via phone this week. “There cannot be a better platform than the web for doing those iterations.”

Here’s the question: Why would anyone want to make a Windows 8 app if web sites can be on par with the native Windows PC experience? A resurgence of the browser make things tougher for Windows to differentiate itself with exclusive apps.

Kothari pointed to additional features such as the live tiles in Windows 8 that would allow Pulse to deliver content to the Start screen. The company is thinking about making a Windows 8 version of its app, he said.

Microsoft’s Gavin said the key is giving site owners the ability to choose the right approach. Apps for Windows 8 can be made in HTML5 and Javascript, the native technologies of the web, so the transition from app to site isn’t as difficult as it might otherwise be.

Internet Explorer 10 will be available with the release of Windows 8 in October. The company also plans to issue a version of IE10 for Windows 7, but the timing for that release hasn’t yet been announced.

Here’s a Microsoft video showing the new Pulse site in action.

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  • Guest

    Congratulations to Pulse on a great new app! My only concern with web apps is that they run in a “sand box” of sorts: I’ve seen very few web apps that integrate with other applications, even other web apps. What are Microsoft and Pulse doing to evolve the web app from a bundle of sand boxed HTML5 files to a truly extensible, integrable piece of software?

    • http://twitter.com/mdtauk martin anderson

      Windows 8 Metro Apps – coded in HTML5 and JavaScript…

  • warcaster

    I find it hilarious that Microsoft, the company that tried to hold back the web for so many years because they didn’t want desktop programs to be replicated on the web, because it would’ve destroyed the Windows lock-in, is now desperately trying to make apps work on the web and more “cross-platform” to reduce the iPad’s lock-in with the users.

    • guest

      Haters gotta hate.

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