By Alexandra Burlacu | Oct 01, 2012 12:51 PM EDT
Microsoft's partnership with bookseller Barnes & Noble is bearing fruit, as some of the e-reader technology used in the new Nook HD and HD+ slates will make its way to Windows 8 and a new reading app specifically designed for Windows 8, which is set to launch this month. Barnes & Noble and Microsoft announced their partnership back in April, with Microsoft investing $300 million for a 17.6 percent equity stake in the company.
Under the deal, Barnes & Noble will spin off its e-book and reader business into a new, yet-to-be-named subsidiary. Meanwhile, in addition to the $300 million investment, Microsoft also agreed to drop patent claims which it had previously filed against the company. The new subsidiary, called NewCo for now, must still pay license fees to Microsoft for the technologies covered by the patents at issue.
The Nook-branded e-reader app is designed for use on Windows 8 PCs and tablets, including Microsoft's own Surface tablet, which will arrive on Oct. 26 along with other Windows 8 systems from OEMs.
"The most visible thing [consumers] are going to see is a best in class reading application on Windows 8," Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch told ABC News. "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 system."
Lynch implied that the partnership with Microsoft will go beyond the reading app, which will launch in the next fortnight.
"We are talking to them [Microsoft] about a lot of things," Lynch told ABC News. "I talk to Steve [Ballmer] from time to time about things we might want to do together. We are the leaders in reading technology and rendering. We obviously have this huge corpus of content. So we are talking about how we can take the great Windows 8 experience and add value to it."
Lynch's comments came as his company introduced two new Nook models based on Android. With the Nook HD and HD+, Barnes & Noble aims to challenge Amazon's new Kindle Fire HD, while also providing affordable tablet alternatives to the iPad. When asked whether Barnes & Noble would consider making a Windows 8 tablet as well, Lynch said the company has nothing to announce. The CEO did note, however, that Barnes & Noble has done its share of innovative things in hardware, and its efforts have not gone unrecognized.
The Nook HD sports a 7-inch display with a 1440 x 900 resolution at 243 pixels per inch (ppi), the highest ever for a tablet of that size, according to Barnes & Noble. The tablet also offers 720p HD video playback and is 20 percent lighter than the Kindle Fire HD. It comes with a dual-core, 1.3GHz processor under the hood, and has a $199 price tag.
Meanwhile, the Nook HD+ comes with a $269 price tag, but sports a 9-inch screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1280 at 256 ppi. The HD+ is also capable of Full HD video playback at 1080p, packs a dual-core chip clocked at 1.5GHz, and 1GB of RAM.
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