Microsoft, Barnes & Noble partner up

In a few short months, or maybe a little longer, Windows 8 will arrive aboard a whole fleet of new PCs and tablets. Will there be e-book readers, too? In light of Microsoft’s latest business venture, one certainly has to wonder. The software giant says it’s entered a “strategic partnership” with Barnes & Noble, as part of which it will sink $300 million into the bookseller’s new subsidiary (and receive a 17.6% equity stake).

The subsidiary, which is temporarily dubbed Newco, will encompass Barnes & Noble’s “digital and College businesses.” It will allow the two companies to “collaborate and reach a broader set of customers” and “accelerate the transition to e-reading.”

That may all sound a little vague, but the deal is rife with possibilities. For instance, one of the first fruits of the partnership will be a Nook app for Windows 8. Also, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Study e-textbook platform will fall under the Newco umbrella. Apple made its grand entrance in the e-textbook publishing world with iBooks Author this January, and by the looks of it, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble plan to team up on the defense.

As for actual Windows 8-based e-book readers, well, nothing’s been announced… yet. The guys at SlashGear dialed in to the announcement conference call, and they say that, according to Windows Phone chief Andy Lees, Microsoft “has not done a teardown on the NOOK devices to see where they are in terms of Windows 8 requirements.” Of course, seeing as Windows 8 will be available for ARM tablets, e-readers probably aren’t such a stretch.

I can’t say I’m all that excited about the prospect of seeing Windows 8 on an e-book reader, though. The whole point of e-readers is to get out of the way—that means small, light devices with low prices and preposterously long battery run times. Shoehorning a full-featured OS like Windows 8 onto a device like that might end up spoiling the formula. Even if it can be done, an e-ink display and an ultra-slow ARM platform would seriously compromise the Windows 8 experience.

Comments closed
    • ssidbroadcast
    • 7 years ago

    First, Microsoft partners with Nokia: an out-of-touch, mobile phone company on the brink of irrelevancy to help them make… a smart phone platform.

    Now, Microsoft partners with Barnes and Noble. Yep.

      • blastdoor
      • 7 years ago

      And note that these “partnerships” involve big cash payments from Microsoft. With this new interest in charity, maybe Microsoft should change its name to the Ballmer Foundation.

      • mutarasector
      • 7 years ago

      This was my initial thought as well, however this deal seems to be structured rather differently than the M$/Nokia arrangement.

    • blastdoor
    • 7 years ago

    MS paid $300 million for an 18% stake in “newco”, with B&N owning the rest (so, newco is implicitly valued at $1.7 billion). B&N’s stake is therefore valued at $1.4 billion

    Yet, B&N is (according to Yahoo finance) worth about $1.2 billion.

    My conclusion is that MS needs to be a little bit more careful with its money.

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      I guess we don’t know if newco has other investors.

        • blastdoor
        • 7 years ago

        Unless we read the linked article, in which case we find that:

        “Barnes & Noble will own approximately 82.4% of the new subsidiary, which will have an ongoing relationship with the company’s retail stores. Barnes & Noble has not yet decided on the name of Newco.”

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    Wasn’t it B&N that was suing Microsoft for a bunch of things regarding their tablet/touch-enabled crap that they keep using to extort other Android device makers?

    I guess that’s out the window (so to speak). I guess it’s true what they say.

    Every man has his price.

    • jensend
    • 7 years ago

    People are all talking about the supposed benefits to both sides, but really this is just MS extorting more money out of Android users. This protection racket has got to stop.

    • tdsevern
    • 7 years ago

    Microsoft sure is dumping a ton of cash into Windows 8. I just with they would integrate apps into the desktop and not the desktop into apps.

    • srg86
    • 7 years ago

    Oh well, there goes the Nook, I’m trying to get away from anything Microsoft, when I eventually do get myself an e-book reader, I’m going Kindle.

      • Farting Bob
      • 7 years ago

      It’ll only be 17.6% Microsoft. That 83.4% not Microsoft. Think you’d be safe. Or just buy a nook that was made before this announcement.

    • sweatshopking
    • 7 years ago

    Windows 8 isn’t for ebook readers. it’s for the (currently) android based tablets.
    [url<]http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/nook-tablet-barnes-noble/1104687969?r=1&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Device%20Specific%20-%20NOOK%20Tablet&utm_source=google&cm_mmca1=33d5160f-f931-f268-4b46-0000497c2f03&utm_term=nook%20tablet&cm_mmc=Google-_-Device%20Specific%20-%20NOOK%20Tablet-_-NOOK%20Tablet%20(phrase)-_-NOOK%20Tablet[/url<]

      • StashTheVampede
      • 7 years ago

      Based on their PR, Windows8 ARM will make its way to a Nook tablet. Next up would be a Nook app that would work on whatever latest Windows mobile OS, so you could buy in one place and read in many.

        • codedivine
        • 7 years ago

        Completely off-topic, but thanks to your username I was reminded of how awesome Trigun was! Thanks :)!

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        yeah. i just was commenting on cyrils postulation that it was going to be on ebook readers, and since ebook readers are slow, it’d suck.

      • dpaus
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]Windows 8 isn't for ebook readers. it's for the (currently) android based tablets[/quote<] Yeah, and Windows Phone is only for Nokia's higher-end models. Based on history, I'd have to say that Microsoft can't resist taking something that works well and has promise, and force-fitting it into 'the Mircrosft World' Usually killing the successful device/service in the process.

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 7 years ago

    I have a B&N Nook. Interestingly it runs Android and has an 800 mhz ARM CPU. There is a lot of community work done to unlock the full Android experience while keeping the Nook experience. It feels like switching between the two when using a modded Nook.

    However, from an out of the box experience, I’m not sure it matters what the underlying OS is. All you see the Nook interface.

    Edit: I’m also not sure what MS gets out of this.

      • insulin_junkie72
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]I'm also not sure what MS gets out of this[/quote<] Besides the potential Win8 exposure, getting their toes in the yet-unmarked e-textbook market. It hasn't yet developed, and there could be a lot of $$$ there. Between the MS/B&N patent dispute and B&N's serious need of cash, it's not like B&N was in the best position to say no.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        Note I didn’t say I wasn’t sure what B&N was getting out of this deal.

          • insulin_junkie72
          • 7 years ago

          Didn’t say you did.

          B&N as of a week ago now has a corporate raider (sorry, “activist investor”) buying into them on top of everything else, so they’ve got problems.

        • sweatshopking
        • 7 years ago

        the biggest thing barnes gets is licensing for the disputed patents. You’re right.

      • Sargent Duck
      • 7 years ago

      More fingers in the pie. Doesn’t matter what the pie is. In the past decade we’ve seen such changes in everything consumer related that to stay relevant you HAVE to be in everything.

      Microsoft has seen first hand what happens when you’re late to the party.

      On topic, I think Windows 7 Phone would be a perfect OS for an e-book reader. It already runs fantastic on low-end* hardware and “just” works right out of the box.

      *compared to the latest and greatest iPhone/Android

      • Thatguy
      • 7 years ago

      I also have a nook. I put the CM7 mod on it and while i sometimes wish it had more performance i can’t complain. Clocked at 1.2ghz it’s a pleasant android experience. I haven’t missed anything about the original nook software that the Nook android app has to offer.

      • Frith
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]I'm also not sure what MS gets out of this.[/quote<] Most articles covering this story have completely missed the main point. Microsoft gain little to nothing from this deal and it's to do with B&N exposing Microsoft's Android protection racket. Microsoft have been threatening companies that use Android with legal action unless they pay licence fees for intellectual property which Microsoft claim they own. Microsoft go to the company and say "We're going to sue you for infringing on our patents. We're not going to tell you what patents you're infringing on unless you sign an NDA". The reason Microsoft make companies sign an NDA to see the patents is because they're laughably weak, and the NDA prevents the list of patents Microsoft are using in their protection racket from becoming public. After the victim signs the NDA Microsoft show the list of patents and threaten that unless they pay a licence fee Microsoft will keep the them tied up in legal proceedings until they're bankrupt. For most businesses it's easier and cheaper to licence Microsoft's patents than to litigate (which is why it operates like a protection racket). However, Barnes & Noble called Microsoft's bluff, refused to sign the NDA, refused to licence the patents and chose to litigate. This allowed the list of patents to become public, so everyone can see how laughable they are (see Exhibit D [url=http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=2011111122291296<]here[/url<]). Microsoft have realised they're screwed and have decided to folk over $300million to B&N under the guise of a joint venture to try and save face. It's good to see the patent trolls lose in this case, but it's a shame that so many other companies (Samsung, HTC etc) have already chosen to give in to Microsoft's bullying and sign up for their protection racket.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        For those too lazy to follow the link here’s the 5 patents that MS claimed were being violated:

        * “Remote Retrieval and Display Management of Electronic Document with Incorporated Images”
        * “System Provided Child Window Controls”
        * “Selection Handles in Editing Electronic Documents”
        * “Method and Apparatus for Capturing and Rendering Annotations for Non-Modifiable Electronic Content”
        * “Loading Status in a Hypermedia Browser Having a Limited Available Display Area”

        • insulin_junkie72
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]Microsoft have realised they're screwed and have decided to folk over $300million to B&N under the guise of a joint venture to try and save face.[/quote<] Microsoft gets its royalty payments, and the new joint venture (which may become a full-fledged spinoff in the future) has the potential growth parts of B&N (digital, college) and doesn't have all the dead-weight parts of B&N. Is that the bad "screwed" or the good "screwed"? 😛

    • RtFusion
    • 7 years ago

    The title reads: “Microsoft, Banes & Noble partner up”, should be “Barnes” instead.

      • Cyril
      • 7 years ago

      Fixed. Sorry about that.

      • mutarasector
      • 7 years ago

      Maybe it was a predictive title indicating what Microsoft will become in eReaders?!?!

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