Is a Windows-powered Nook coming?

Following Microsoft and Barnes and Noble's joint announcement earlier today that Microsoft would be investing $300 million for a 17.6% stake in a Barnes and Noble spinoff company based around Barnes and Noble's Nook line, speculation is now mounting that future Nook products may be powered by Windows. Microsoft's comments on the issue haven't clarified the situation, as company executives only provided a "no comment" on the matter during a conference call with financial analysts.

Mary-Jo Foley of ZDNet believes Microsoft's already left clues that such a partnership may be part of this deal. According to Foley, a Nook e-reader powered by Windows may not run Windows RT (the ARM-based version of Windows 8). Instead, Nook e-readers may be powered by a Windows embedded operating system modified specifically for the Nook brand. If the new Nook company went this route, the operating system would still likely feature a Metro design, but it wouldn't tie in with the Windows RT ecosystem of apps (although this wouldn't be a loss since e-readers are only meant to be reading devices). A future Nook Tablet could potentially still use Windows RT, however. Windows Phone's upcoming revision, Apollo, could be another option for the Nook brand. This is the most unlikely scenario, however, as Microsoft has prohibited the Windows Phone platform from being used on anything other than a phone.

Nook certainly doesn't have strong ties to Android that would hinder it from changing operating systems. While Nook e-readers and tablets are based on Android, they are heavily skinned and don't use Google's Android Market. The Nook line also doesn't use the latest versions of Android; the original Nook e-reader is powered by Android 1.5, the Nook Simple Touch is powered by Android 2.1, the Nook Color is powered by Android 2.2 and the Nook Tablet is powered by Android 2.3.

It would certainly be odd if Microsoft were making a substantial investment in Barnes and Noble's Nook spinoff without getting something substantial in return. When the company invested in Facebook, for instance, tight integration between Bing and Facebook followed, with Facebook utilizing Bing Maps and Bing providing better search results for Facebook-related searches. Given that the announcement termed the investment a "strategic partnership," it's safe to assume that there will be more to this investment than we currently know.

Barnes and Noble's stock is currently up an astounding 60% (currently $22.01, up from its previous close of $13.68) following its strategic partnership announcement with Microsoft.

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22 Comments

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KillTheIrishman said,
I hope so. I would SO buy one if the price is right.

I probably would too. Thinking about it, Metro would be absolutely perfect for an e-reader, even on a slow e-ink screen. The only thing that would hold me back is the fact I've already spent so much money on (non-transferable) Kindle books. I'm locked in to the Amazon ecosystem unless I want to forgo all that purchased content. Same deal with Android. I'd like to switch but I've already invested a lot in Android apps/games. I suppose that I could carry around 2 devices but that wouldn't make a lot of sense.

Most online music stores got rid of DRM a while ago, so a song purchased from even iTunes or Zune or Amazon can be played on any device, whereas that wasn't true just a few years ago. The same thing now needs to happen with ebooks and video. Stop treating customers like criminals. Stop tying our content to a single device/"ecosystem". If I want to switch, I should be able to take my purchased content with me.

Going the non-Metro (Windows RT) way does not make any sense for an upcoming device.
I strongly doubt Microsoft would actually contribute to this project using Windows CE or Windows Embedded considering the humongous efforts they invested into their OS convergence.

Microsoft and Barnes & Noble team up for Nook spinoff
Microsoft: No comment on future Windows 8 Nook tablet
Is a Windows-powered Nook coming?

Panda X said,
Microsoft and Barnes & Noble team up for Nook spinoff
Microsoft: No comment on future Windows 8 Nook tablet
Is a Windows-powered Nook coming?

Probably. And hopefully a Nokia-powered one too.

Panda X said,
Microsoft and Barnes & Noble team up for Nook spinoff
Microsoft: No comment on future Windows 8 Nook tablet
Is a Windows-powered Nook coming?

We're just trying to keep you updated on all the news and speculation regarding the announcement. The articles all have separate information that warranted their own posts, we thought. If you have a specific complaint, feel free to tell us in the comments! We're always listening.

Microsoft supporting Barnes & Noble = a good thing, depending on the reason.

Microsoft supporting Barnes & Noble to create some freakish standalone device running an OS that isn't Windows 8 compatible in any way, shape, respect, or form = a seriously bad thing, and the reasoning just doesn't matter.

If it's WinRT based, it has a small - that's a very small opportunity to become a foothold in the market that's coming with WinRT products, especially if they can get one off the ground very soon, like, when Windows 8 hits the shelves soon. If this could potentially be some new device based on the now "classic" Nook Color/Tablet design and form factor but running WinRT at the core, then it's got a chance.

Elsewise, B&N is infinitely better off staying on the Android course.

This just looks, smells, and is bad any way you slice it.

br0adband said,
Microsoft supporting Barnes & Noble = a good thing, depending on the reason.

Let's be honest here, this deal has nothing to do with supporting B&N and everything to do with Microsoft's patent lawsuit against B&N. Microsoft's just strong-arming them into doing a deal. The same as it does with other mobile phone OEM's like HTC, Samsung etc.

simplezz said,

Let's be honest here, this deal has nothing to do with supporting B&N and everything to do with Microsoft's patent lawsuit against B&N. Microsoft's just strong-arming them into doing a deal. The same as it does with other mobile phone OEM's like HTC, Samsung etc.

It has nothing to do with that, there is no point in MS paying B&N for violating their patents. Microsoft needs a partner in eReader market, to compete with Amazon kindle and apple ibooks. Its a Win win situation for both companies, now B&N can use MS patents "legally", and can produce better readers with MS help.

Shadrack said,
Perhaps they are just wanting B&N to develop a Windows 8/WP7 "Nook" app...

You don't pay $300 million for a Nook app... not when the Win8 DP and CP both have a Kindle app already.

Shadrack said,
Perhaps they are just wanting B&N to develop a Windows 8/WP7 "Nook" app...

Doubt it. There's already a Amazon Kindle app, and Kindle has a much larger market share compared to Nook. Plus I think a Nook app would be coming even if this partnership weren't made.

Shadrack said,
Perhaps they are just wanting B&N to develop a Windows 8/WP7 "Nook" app...

They would pay developers to build Apps for Windows? Especially $300 million? That's highly unlikely.
I think there's more to it than meets the eye.


I agree with this article. I think we will see B&N shifting most of it's technology to Microsoft's offerings.

rfirth said,

You don't pay $300 million for a Nook app... not when the Win8 DP and CP both have a Kindle app already.

I would have thought any company would be just plain stupid to spend that much money on a dumb phone app.... but that is less than a 3rd of what Facebook paid for Instagram.

Shadrack said,

I would have thought any company would be just plain stupid to spend that much money on a dumb phone app.... but that is less than a 3rd of what Facebook paid for Instagram.


That's for full ownership, though. Not for an app to be developed for your platform.

Shadrack said,

I would have thought any company would be just plain stupid to spend that much money on a dumb phone app.... but that is less than a 3rd of what Facebook paid for Instagram.


That's not a comparable situation. Facebook bought Instagram and the contracts of its employees. Microsoft is paying to have a stake in the new Nook company, and generally Microsoft doesn't provide an investment this big in companies unless there's some clear partnership. Paying $300 to get a company to develop an app (and an app that isn't even a market leader) isn't feasible.