Here's the part of the Microsoft and Barnes & Noble agreement everyone's ignoring

Summary:A Barnes & Noble filing about deliverables coming as a result of its new Microsoft partnership is chock-full of references to Windows Phone.

Now that we're all speculated out about the possibility of a Windows-based Nook (a Wook?), it's time to start ruminating on what's cooking between Microsoft and Barnes & Noble on the Windows Phone front.

A B&N commercial agreement filing from earlier this week (which I found via a link in a New York Times story) ended up being well worth poring through, and not just because of a mention of a "Microsoft Reader."

(The B&N filing includes this statement: "Microsoft Reader. If Microsoft creates a reader, Microsoft may include an interface to the NewCo Store in that reader and may surface in that reader all Content purchased by customers from the NewCo Store." That clause may just be one of those cover-your-butt legal clauses and Microsoft may have no intentions of doing this. Or maybe it's more.)

But that's not the part of the B&N filing that interested me the most. There are 55 mentions in this one document of "Windows Phone." (There's even one mention of "Apollo," spotted by @clubdirthill. Sadly, it's only a definition: "'Windows Phone Software' means (a) the successor to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 operating system software for mobile phones that is currently code-named “Apollo,” and (b) any future versions and successors, including any bug fixes, service packs, upgrades and updates.")

As B&N and Microsoft announced at the start of this week, B&N is building a Windows 8 Nook app (which this document says will be downloadable from the Windows 8 app store, and which will be free to consumers).

The press release announcing the NewCo B&N/Microsoft-funded subsidiary never even mentioned Windows Phone -- not once. Yet the B&N commercial agreement cites "Windows Phone" 55 times? Why this discrepancy?

As we Windows Phone users know, our ranks are small. In the U.S., Windows Phone's share of the smartphone market is about four percent. How many (or few) of that four percent want to read on their phones? Maybe a lot. All I know is I never read books on my phone; the screen size is prohibitive for me.

But... and this is just wild and crazy speculation on my part... what if there will be devices running the Windows Phone 8 operating system (Apollo) which are not like the current Windows Phone devices. What if Microsoft is planning to allow OEMs to put the Windows Phone OS on something bigger... like a Microsoft reader. The idea might not be as nutty as it sounds: On May 2, Neowin reported that its servers were pinged by some kind of device running the Windows Phone 8 OS, but which had a screen resolution of 768X768.

Could my ZDNet colleague Jason Perlow be right? Could there be an e-reader or some kind of consumption-focused, subscription-centric tablet running the Windows Phone OS coming in the not-too-distant future? Or are those myriad references to Windows Phone simply indicative of the fact that Microsoft plans to position Windows Phone and Windows 8 as tightly integrated and "better together"?

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Telcos, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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