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Microsoft, TheFind use HTML5 to improve catalogue shopping

Microsoft has teamed up with shopping site TheFind for an HTML5-powered website intended to bring a magazine-like feel to online shopping.

The site, dubbed Glimpse Catalogs, resembles Pinterest in its layout, but rather than a list of random items pinned by users, Glimpse features catalogues from 90 top retailers, like Tory Burch, Land's End, and Bebe.

Click on a catalogue and a pop-up window will display a few items on the left side. Click "explore this catalog" to flip back and forth through the pages as you would a physical magazine, and save favourite items. Sign in with Facebook to "like" or share an item on the social network, and Glimpse will curate options specifically for you based on those likes.

Microsoft's Ryan Gavin, general manager of IE, said TheFind has had success with its iOS app, recently reaching one million downloads, but wanted to broaden its reach. HTML5 allowed it to branch out to the Web, but "not compromise the experience with the app."

"The goal was to create something that would leverage the immense reach of the Web without compromising the beauty, richness and performance of an app. We were excited to help," he said.

There's also a developer component to Glimpse, Gavin said. Microsoft created a magazine framework that will be released on GitHub, so developers can create their own Glimpse-like magazines, he said. For more, check out this video.

There are no browser restrictions for accessing Glimpse, though it will likely perform best on the newest versions, like IE9 and the upcoming IE10.

In April, Microsoft debuted an HTML5-enhanced, customised video from teen pop star Jasmine Villegas. The software giant teamed up with Digital Kitchen and ad agency Bradley and Montgomery (BaM) for an IE9-enhanced video for the remix of Villegas' "Just a Friend."

Microsoft is not the only firm to tackle catalogues, meanwhile. Last August, Google launched Google Catalogs, a free tablet-optimised app that aggregates shopping catalogues in a searchable, interactive format.