Below are the details of the only .ePUB reader software found by my tests to adequately support ‘fixed-layout + animated pictures’ with test files, on the Windows desktop.

Sure, a PC user is not necessarily going to read a whole magazine/book from a desktop monitor. But many researchers, editors etc need to consult or flick through a fixed .ePUB while at their desk. And have it look as intended, ideally in non-clunky freeware.

1. Thorium. The best and really the only viable choice for most people, though not the ideal “only choice” to foist on readers of a magazine. Well designed. Display of small type is not as good as that in Azardi. Works back to Windows 7. In slow but active development.

2. Azardi. Does the job quite well but has several problems: i) only supports fixed layout ePUB (can’t even load re-flowable ePUBs); ii) opens files with dimmed background/overlay for the pages every time, and needs to be manually adjusted back to normal brightness; iii) it triggered a delayed virus alert for me and was thus uninstalled. No longer developed since about 2016, works back to Windows 7. Free “for personal use only”, so institutions and businesses may be wary of being hit with licencing fees from whoever currently owns it.

3. Calibre. Free. Primarily used as a conversion software, but also has a reader and ebook manager. Feels and looks old, though it isn’t. It’s just clunky. Actively developed, and has now long been “Windows 10 only”.

There is also Sigil, the dedicated ePub editor. It appears to only preview the first page of an ePub, and as such is not also a Windows reader option for the desktop.

While the DTP software Adobe InDesign can preview a document destined for a fixed ePub, to ePub standards, it cannot then re-import this output and preview it again. Nor can QuarkXpress.

I could not find any Chrome browser extension that explicitly stated “fixed layout” support. The Microsoft Edge browser had this feature until a few years ago, but the feature was killed off. The old Readium extension for Chrome also went, because it could no longer support javascript.

Windows 10 and 11 desktop users who allow mobile-style “apps” from the Microsoft Store may perhaps find one or two ePub readers there, though they have not been tested here for ‘fixed-layout + animated picture’ support.