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Microsoft invests in electronic reading

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Nook app to feature in Windows 8

Microsoft Corporation has taken new action to remain competitive in the technology world with a move into e-books, investing $300m (£185m) in Barnes & Noble’s e-reader business.

Barnes & Noble is the biggest book retailer in the US and released its Nook tablet in 2009, using Google’s Android operating system. This led to a lawsuit by Microsoft in March 2011, which alleged patent infringement.

Now, however, the two companies have joined forces, with a Nook app due to feature in Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8. The new OS has a heavy focus on touch screen technology and is expected to launch in October 2012.

Amazon Kindle leads the e-book market

“It’s a good strategic deal,” said Sid Parakh, an analyst at fund firm McAdams Wright Ragen, quoted by news agency Reuters. “It gets Microsoft in the game for e-readers, and gives them access to a market that has been growing nicely and they’ve basically sat out of. It also makes Windows 8 a more compelling platform from an e-reader’s perspective.”

The e-book market is currently dominated by Amazon’s Kindle with a stake of around 60 per cent, while Apple’s iPad has approximately 15 per cent. Barnes & Noble is in second place with around 25 per cent. Its fortunes have echoed Microsoft’s, to some degree, with both having previously been undisputed industry leaders.

Richard Frost, managing editor of theEword, said: “Microsoft is entering a tough battlefield with Windows 8, against the success of the iPad and the Android operating system; while the Nook hasn’t managed to touch the Kindle in the e-book realm. Together, however, they may be much stronger and see success in both markets.”

Written by Liane Baddeley

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