Microsoft mute on Nook app's bundling with Windows 8

Integration with OS unlikely, says analyst

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Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, believes that Microsoft will not bundle the Nook app with Windows 8 or Windows RT, but not because of antitrust fears. "The toughest thing facing Windows 8 [and Windows RT] is a lack of apps," said Cherry. "They're betting that people will write Metro [apps]...and Microsoft will want to present a level playing field."

Not for customers, perhaps, but certainly for developers.

Cherry argued that by embedding the Nook app in Windows 8 and Windows RT, Microsoft would send the wrong message to developers, that the playing field is, in fact, not level.

Cherry admitted to buying digital books from a trio of outlets -- Amazon's Kindle store, Apple's iBooks store and the one operated by the Canadian company Kobo -- and often shopped for the best price on each. "It's important that Windows 8 have all the [e-book stores] from the beginning," said Cherry, arguing that because e-reading is one of the prime uses of tablets, anything else would be seen as a weakness when Microsoft is playing catch-up with Amazon and Apple.

Amazon and Kobo each have already created a Metro app for Windows 8 and Windows RT; the programs are currently available in the beta of the Windows Store. There's nothing preventing them from pulling out, however, if they saw that the Nook was pre-loaded in Windows 8 and Windows RT.

The next major milestone for Windows 8, dubbed Windows 8 Release Preview, may answer questions about the Nook app's place in the ecosystem. The Release Preview will debut the first week of June.

Barnes & Noble's filing yesterday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revealed a few more tidbits about the Windows 8 angle to the deal. Although in one section of the filing, Barnes & Noble said NewCo would develop "a Windows 8 application for e-reading and digital content purchases," elsewhere the singular "application" morphed to the plural.

"NewCo will develop certain applications [emphasis added] for Windows 8 for purchasing and consumption of digital reading content," the Form 8-K stated.

The filing also hinted at other NewCo projects. "NewCo and Microsoft would share in the revenues...from digital content purchased from NewCo...through certain Microsoft products and services that may be developed in the future and are designed to interact with the NewCo online bookstore," the submission said.

Yesterday, other analysts speculated on the chance that the joint venture will lead to Nook tablets and e-readers powered by Windows or Windows RT. Like the Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet runs a customized version of Google's Android operating system.

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

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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