Why Microsoft Is Tying B&N’s Nook To Windows, Office And Bing

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A new job posting from Barnes & Noble indicates that the Nook e-reader will be tied into the Microsoft platform, including Windows, Office and the company’s Bing search engine. It’s an indication that e-books mean more than just another item to sell; they’re now a broader part of the content ecosystem.To date, little has been said about Microsoft’s $300 million investment into Barnes & Noble, which took place last June, to form a subsidiary company that would be jointly owned by both B&N and Microsoft. But the new job posting hints at least at what some of those “contractual obligations” might be.Specifically, the new “director of engineering, Windows 8” posting includes the following: “As the Barnes & Noble leader of the Microsoft Alliance, you will be responsible delivering on our contractual commitments on Windows 8 applications, Cloud, commerce, content integration with the Microsoft ecosystem and for defining and delivering on product strategy of Nook integration with Microsoft ecosystem including Windows, Office, Bing… You’ll lead a cross functional team of engineers in design, development, test, and deployment of a range of products on a Windows mobile 8 platform.”The posting was apparently first discovered by the Digital Reader blog.B&N’s New Family-Friendly NooksOn Wednesday, Barnes & Noble launched the new 7-inch Nook HD for $199 (8GB) and $229 (16 GB) as well as the 9-inch Nook HD+ for $269 (16 GB) and $299 (32 GB). Both tablets feature high-resolution screens, capable of challenging the newlyreleased updates to the Amazon Kindle; the Nook HD+ is capable of displaying full 1080p video on its 1920 x 1280 display, versus the 1280×800 HD screen used by the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD.The new Nooks also include a family mode, which can reconfigure the screen from user to user, and lock out kids from using apps and visiting websites that aren’t age-appropriate. Just as Amazon has recognized that services are what will sell the tablet, Barnes & Noble appears to have taken personalization to heart.And just as Amazon’s cloud reader extends the company’s e-book services beyond the Kindle, it’s obvious that B&N plans to bring its Nook app to Windows 8, among other platforms. Barnes & Noble chief executive William Lynch told ABC News:“The most visible and first thing they [consumers] are going to see is a best in class reading application on Windows 8. Some of the things we are doing with our reading technology – the rendering of books, catalogs, magazines – we are going to bring that to Windows 8 form factors and the operating systems.”Windows 8 Tablets: Possible, But Not NowB&N’s new Nooks are all predicated upon the Android operating system; when asked if B&N would ever develop a full-fledged Windows 8 tablet, Lynch demurred, not surprisingly. And that’s probably the most appropriate response; a number of top-tier OEMs have already shown off their Windows 8 tablets, and Intel is gathering a number of partners in San Francisco on Thursday to essentially do it again. There’s still room for a true e-reader/tablet version of Windows 8, however, as Microsoft’s Surface boasts a 10.6-inch display, far larger than the form factors of the Nook.The Future: Services IntegrationWhat’s more likely, however, are closer ties between the Windows ecosystem and the Nook’s galaxy of e-books. The Nook app already allows a user to highlight a passage, add notes to it, or look it up on the Web. The latter is essentially a search function that will likely be tied to Bing. How that will occur on an Android devices remains to be seen – a standard webpage, perhaps.Microsoft’s recent investment into Mimvi indicates that Microsoft is investing into app discovery, which could provide some advantages to B&N, as well. Google allows you to search for a term and pull up related images, maps, shopping, news and more. Microsoft can deliver all of that, too, and appears to be stretching to add “apps” and “e-books” to the list.Incidentally, Google issued an update to Google Play Books on Tuesday which also added highlighting and notes, plus the ability to translate foreign passages. (Oddly, there isn’t a way to look up a highlighted passage on the Web or even cut and paste the information.)The last possibility is the most intriguing: self-publishing. In effect, Word’s ability to “save as PDF” allows a writer to “self publish” an e-book, and Amazon goes into a great deal of detail about how e-books should be formatted for publishing on the Amazon platform. But there’s really no easy, integrated way to get from Word to an e-book marketplace in one simple step, including B&N’s PubIt tool, which requires converting Word files to the ePub format. Integrating Office with the Nook reader or marketplace could fill that gap.What the Barnes & Noble job posting means is that e-books are no longer just a commodity to be bought and sold on a digital marketplace; they are a living, breathing form of content that can be searched, indexed and integrated into a broader content ecosystem. If Microsoft can in fact tie the Nook e-book marketplace to Word, then it can simply provide a quick and easy method of self-publishing. Microsoft truly will own the means of production. 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