Windows 8

Get ready for a new Nook Tablet powered by Windows 8

There is a lot riding on the success of a partnership between Microsoft and Barnes & Noble.

As I am sure that you have heard by now, Microsoft announced that it is investing $300 million in Barnes & Noble's Nook digital-book business. If it pans out, this deal could be a stroke of genius for both companies. Microsoft needs a big win in the tablet arena as it prepares the launch of Windows 8, and Barnes & Noble needs a big win in the e-book business for its Nook to survive. By teaming up, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble will attempt to level the playing field and hopefully stand a better chance of competing in an arena where there's a lot going on right now. It could also spell doom for Barnes & Noble as a company and for Microsoft's dreams of success for Windows 8 tablets if things don't work out. And, both companies share a few common enemies: Amazon and Apple.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll speculate on the potential benefit to both companies from this deal.

Barnes & Noble's troubles

Recently, it has been reported that the Department of Justice is considering suing Apple along with five major book publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster) for colluding to raise prices on e-books. In a nutshell, the plan, according to the DOJ, was to sell e-books at a flat rate and then take a 30% cut of the profit. As the DOJ sees it, this plan constitutes price fixing and is in direct violation of antitrust legislation. Apple is supposedly the mastermind of this plan.

If the DOJ's lawsuit is successful, Amazon would come out ahead and Barnes & Noble would fall even further behind. Being a bigger company, Amazon could better afford to directly purchase books from publishers at wholesale prices and then sell them at almost "give-away" prices in order to increase the sales of their Kindle e-Reader. In order to compete, Barnes & Noble would have to scale back somewhere, by closing stores, curtailing plans for the Nook, or even cutting the Nook business loose.

Apple would suffer a little too in that they wouldn't be able to make as much money as they had hoped, but they would survive.

Windows 8's troubles

While not as dire as Barnes & Noble's troubles, Microsoft has a lot to lose if the Windows 8 tablet isn't as successful as they are hoping. And, being so late to the game, they are facing a very steep climb up the formidable hill created by the Apple iPad and the Kindle Fire.

To begin with, the iPad has been available since April 2010, and so it definitely has a strong foothold in the tablet market. In fact, it has been reported that at the end of 2011, Apple had sold 55 million iPads. Furthermore, Apple just released its newest model featuring a host of very impressive features that include such things as 5MP camera and 4G LTE connectivity. To top it all off, with over 300 Apple Retail Stores worldwide, getting your hands on an iPad is very easy.

While the Kindle Fire is a relatively new tablet, its $200 price tag, Amazon's huge retail reach, along with easy access to a huge library of e-books, makes the Fire a very big potential competitor for a Windows 8 tablet.

A winning team

With the $300 million Microsoft investment in its digital-book business, Barnes & Noble will be in a much better position to compete with Amazon when it comes to purchasing e-book rights from publishers. With access to Barnes & Noble's vast retail network of 1,340 bookstores, which includes 705 Barnes & Noble superstores and another 635 college bookstores, Microsoft instantly gains a huge retail outlet for promoting its new Windows 8 tablets. This is especially true if one of those new tablets happens to be the new Nook Tablet -- Powered by Windows 8.

What's your take?

What do you think about a Microsoft and Barnes & Noble partnership? Do you think that it is a good business decision? What do you think of my speculation that this partnership will yield a Windows 8 powered Nook Tablet?

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

16 comments
tbanks204
tbanks204

I see the Nook tablet only has a 7 inch screen, unless the windows 8 version would be available in a larger size, it would be too small to be of any use to me.

SKDTech
SKDTech

I use my Android tablet for all my e-reading needs. On it I can read Kindle, Nook, Google Books, etc... With the exception of the iBooks of course. I have at least another year before I will be considering an upgrade or sidegrade and the only thing I can say definitively is that I won't be buying anything that prefaces its name with an "i".

fhrivers
fhrivers

I have a good feeling that Microsoft will leverage this partnership to get some Microsoft Store retail space in Barnes & Noble. Their flagship tablets will be the low-end Nook Tablet and the high end Nokia Lumia Tablet for $200 and $300 respectively. Both will have the Nook app preloaded with free support in store (like B&N does now). I expect them to launch the next Xbox console and other MS hardware/software from these locations.

fhrivers
fhrivers

B&N isn't a tech company like Amazon and Apple and this is probably why the Nook Color/Tablet lags behind iOS. As an owner of a Nook Color, it's collecting dust as I use iPad for the majority of my e-reading needs. The Android-based OS is just that bad. With MS financial muscle and a polished OS (Windows 8 RT), I see this being a great partnership for both companies. I wouldn't be surprised if MS ends up purchasing Barnes and Noble if things work out the way they plan. The partnership just makes too much sense. A Windows 8 tablet with integrated Nook software is my dream tablet.

mpatchak
mpatchak

My question....Is Windows 8 going to be available for current Nook owners for upgrade? Or for that matter is Windows 8 going to be available as an upgrade to any tablet including android or are the specs that different?

FAST!!!
FAST!!!

So does this mean the current Android based Nook Tablet is EOL? I sure hope not. My wife loves her's and I got it for her because it is simple to use and has better specs than the Fire. And I am anti iAnything...

s-f
s-f

It will all come down to if its possible to get a Windows Nook in stores by Late October in time for Chrismas sales... (Assuming Windows 8 is out by then of course... ;) Do they have time to build a quality product by then? My plan in their shoes would be to develop a Windows 8 firmware update that works on the high end Nook Tablets, then sell it as an upgrade for some resonable cost... ($30?) They will need to make sure the Windows market is ready and have some form of MS Office included in cost (for this initial release at least...)

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What do you think about a Microsoft and Barnes & Noble partnership? Do you think that it is a good business decision?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...speculation at this point. Nothing is for sure, so it's way too early to even be thinking about this type of question.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...speculation at this point. Nothing is for sure, so I think that you will be OK with support and updates for your new Nook Tablet.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...bent out of shape over this topic, it is important to point out that I am not speculating on the possibility of a Windows 8 powered eReader. What you have to keep in mind that there are actually 3 Nooks: Nook Simple Touch/GlowLight Nook Color Nook Tablet The Nook Simple Touch is just an eReader - nothing more. There will never be a Windows 8 Powered Nook Simple Touch. The Nook Color is a low powered eReader/Tablet-like device and so there will probably not be a Windows 8 Powered Nook Color. The Nook Tablet on the otherhand, is a powerful device with a 1GHz dual-core processor and comes in two configurations: 8GB with 512MB RAM and 16GB with 1GB RAM. This device would be a good candidate for modification in order to run Windows 8 and this is the Tablet that I had in mind when I wrote this article.

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