Barnes & Noble not part of today's mysterious Microsoft announcement
Dampens rumors that the two would jointly launch a new tablet or e-reader
Computerworld - Barnes & Noble today confirmed that it is not participating in Microsoft's hastily-called news conference Monday afternoon, likely making moot rumors that the two would co-introduce a new tablet or e-reader.
"We are not participating," a spokeswoman with the bookseller said early today in a reply to questions.
Over the weekend, speculation mounted that Microsoft and Barnes & Noble would co-launch a new tablet or e-reader to compete with Amazon's Kindle Fire.
Other rumors last week -- after Microsoft sent a vague invitation to the 4 p.m. PT press conference in Los Angeles -- centered on the Redmond, Wash. company debuting its own tablet, perhaps powered by Windows RT, to compete head-to-head with Apple's iPad.
A jointly-produced tablet or e-reader priced to compete with the Kindle Fire made sense, according to both analysts and Computerworld's analysis, in part because of the partnership that Microsoft and Barnes & Noble announced the last day of April.
As part of the deal, Microsoft invested $300 million in the bookseller's new digital content subsidiary, dubbed only as "NewCo," for a 17.6% stake. Microsoft also promised to pay Barnes & Noble at least another $305 million over the next five years.
The April filing by Barnes & Noble with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission noted that Microsoft might create something called "Microsoft Reader," and if it did, pledged that the device or software -- it wasn't clear which Reader would be -- could access the new digital content store NewCo would build.
Barnes & Noble's denial that it was participating in today's event seemed to put the kibosh on the idea.
The commercial agreement that the two companies signed in April also included language that precluded either firm flying solo on anything related to NewCo.
"No party (or any of their Affiliates) may issue any press release or make any similar public announcement or public statement, regarding this Agreement without the prior written approval and consent of the other parties," stated the deal. "Any and all press releases or similar public announcements or public statements relating to this Agreement will be approved in advance of the release, in writing, by B&N, NewCo and Microsoft."
There remains the smallest bit of wiggle room, however. When asked whether Barnes & Noble was involved with the announcement in any fashion, the company's spokeswoman declined to comment.
If today's mysterious announcement is not related to a tablet or e-reader developed with Barnes & Noble, there remains the possibility that it will focus on a Microsoft-branded tablet, perhaps running Windows RT.
Windows RT is the offshoot of Windows 8 -- both are on track for a fourth-quarter release -- that runs on devices powered by ARM-licensed processors.
Although Microsoft has touted Windows RT as its operating system for tablets, relatively few OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), aka computer makers, have announced they will market such devices. Instead, Microsoft's OEM partners have expressed more interest in creating tablets running Windows 8, the more traditional edition that can handle both legacy Win32 applications and the new Metro apps that are the only software for Windows RT.
Asus, for instance, which showed off an ARM-powered tablet with Windows RT at the Computex trade show in Taipei earlier this month, is one of the few Microsoft OEMs that has publicly committed to the new OS.
The Microsoft press conference is to start at 4 p.m. PT (7 p.m. ET) today. Computerworld will be covering the event with on-site and analytical stories at its conclusion.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Microsoft launches toolset for capturing 'ambient intelligence'
- Microsoft kicks off sales of lower-priced Office subscription in bid for iPad dollars
- At Build, mobility gets a boost with universal Windows apps
- Microsoft gets strategic with its Enterprise Mobility Suite
- Microsoft sketches out final Windows XP security updates for next week
- Microsoft teases touch-first Office for Windows
- Cortana's voice is synthesized in part from an AI character in Halo
- Hell freezes over: Microsoft makes Windows free for some devices
- Windows Phone 8.1 confirmed, with Cortana digital assistant
- Ex-Microsoft employee pleads guilty to trade secret theft
Read more about Hardware in Computerworld's Hardware Topic Center.
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity...
- Redefine Your IT Operations: Remote Office IT Has Never Been Simpler Join us to see why PC Pro named Dell PowerEdge VRTX the "2013 Server of the Year." PowerEdge VRTX may be just what...
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources... All Hardware White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!