At last Microsoft has included a basic PDF viewer in Windows 8. It is called Windows Reader. Windows 7 only had the XPS viewer but since PDF format is more widely used, Microsoft has included built-in support for viewing PDF documents. Although it’s a good step towards a better Windows experience, Windows Viewer is too basic for Desktop computing. But it can be a good choice for tablets and smartphones since it is designed with the Metro UI.

If you are using Windows Reader on a PC, you will see that it will open the document in full screen. There is no way to turn the full screen off. The full screen is also designed for better interactivity on a touch based system rather than mouse and clicks.

Windows Reader Open PDF or XPS document

Another limitation of Windows Reader is that it can open only one document at a time. If you try to open another document, the previous open document will be closed.

There is a very basic functionality set of Windows Reader. You can bring up the context menu by moving the cursor to the bottom of the screen and right clicking. The context menu will list all the tasks that you can perform on the currently opened PDF document.

Windows Reader context menu in Windows 8 Consumer Preview

The find button will let you search within the opened PDF document. You can choose whether you want a one page or two page interface to view the PDF document. Continuous will not break the document into pages but it will scroll the document till the end. Open and Save as button will open and save a copy of the document respectively.

The More button will let you see the document properties and permissions. You can also rotate the document according to your will. Again this feature is related to tablets where you can change the orientation of the screen according to yourself.

The same Windows Reader can be used to open PDF as well as XPS documents. Windows Reader is definitely a good start but Microsoft needs to improve it so that it can also be used by PC users in addition to tablets and smartphones. My recommendation is that you should be using a more powerful third party PDF viewer like Adobe Reader if you are on a PC otherwise Windows Reader is also a good choice.