No Barnes & Noble 'Wook' for the Windows faithful

No Barnes & Noble 'Wook' for the Windows faithful

Summary: Barnes & Noble took the wraps off its coming Nook HD and HD+ tablets. They're still Android, not Windows, inside.


Barnes & Noble rolled out its answer to the Kindle Fire HD on September 26. Spoiler alert: Due in late October, the Nook HD and HD+ are, like their predecessors, Android-based tablets.


To be fair, no one from B&N or Microsoft ever said we should expect a new operating system inside.

When Microsoft and B&N formed their joint "NewCo" venture back in late April 2012, many of us wondered about the possibility of a Windows-based reader and/or tablet -- a k a, a "Wook," or maybe a "WookIE" (You can thank us for the branding help later, NewCo.) My ZDNet colleague Jason Perlow even went so far as to create a mockup image of a Windows/WP OS- based Nook tablet, which I've used in my post above.

Back to reality.  B&N only committed to building a Windows 8 Nook app which will be downloadable from the Windows 8 app store, and which will be free to consumers.

However, a B&N filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission back in May fueled the speculation fires further with mention of a possible Microsoft Reader that could include an interface to the NewCo Store. The 55 mentions in the same SEC filing of "Windows Phone" had some of us conjecturing that there could be a B&N/NewCo Windows Phone OS-based reader or mini-tablet in the wings.

As of this week, it seems there's not going to be a Wook available this holiday season, after all. It looks like B&N/NewCo won't be offering or directly integrating with Microsoft's Xbox Live video or marketplace service, either. Instead, B&N seems to be building its own alternative, Nook Video service, that will work on Nooks, tablets, TVs and smartphones. There are supposedly free Nook Video apps for playback and syncing content coming, too.

(As far as I can tell, this B&N service and apps aren't B&N-branded versions of Microsoft's Xbox services and apps. If they are, no one from Microsoft is conceding this, at this point.)

What does seem to still be in the works is some kind of a B&N/Microsoft/NewCo app and/or platform that has to do with active reading and which will integrate with Microsoft Office.

It sounded from a B&N executive's comment in May that this could be something that would be of potential interest to information workers, students, authors and consumers. The pair seem to have discussed plans for some kind of tool or app that would allow creation in Office and publishing in the Nook book store. Maybe the Microsoft Research GatherReader or the Project Austin app that uses some of the axed Microsoft Courier code figures in here, somehow?





Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Tablets


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I would think that UI would be confusing

    I think that looks like Windows 8. If I bought that, I would expect it to run my Windows 8 apps i purchased in the past. But since its Android it doesn't. I think that would be upsetting.
    A Gray
    • That screen was from an imagined tablet

      ... that would hvae had Windows 8 on it. What's confusing about it?
      Hallowed are the Ori
  • Too expensive

    Even if the license fee for a copy of Win 8 RT is as low as $50 (The Verge had it at $85), that's still a huge number in the manufacturing cost of an item that's meant to sell for $199 or less.

    Unless there's a super-low-cost "embedded" version of RT in the works, we won't be seeing Windows in the e-reader segment.
    Robert Hahn
    • Maybe....

      My understanding is the manufacturers using Android have to pay for some licensing to the patent holder directly. By using Windows, Microsoft pays for this. Still, $85 seems a lot for a $200 tablet.
      Coremail Rx
      • MS Treading lightly around B&N regarding patents

        As I recall, NewCo resulted from a settlement of a suit between MS and B&N (forget who sued whom), when B&N contested MS's attempt to collect a license fee (about $15-20 per unit?) they were able to extor...extract from all other Android device makers supposedly for use of MS patents "infringed" by Android. I also recall reading various analyses that indicated B&N had decent prospects to win.

        If B&N were to win that suit, MS would have had quite a bit to pay back to the likes of Samsung, Motorola, Asus, etc. If B&N lost, their bankruptcy prospects would have been almost certain.

        So NewCo was a way for MS to protect its ill-gotten gains, and for B&N to obtain another possible source of funding, and to stave off bankruptcy, in what seemed to be a mutually agreeable way to avoid the costs and uncertainties of going to trial.

        That's my understanding, FWIW.
        • Afraid to win

          Imagine if Microsoft sued for 20 claimed infringements and won on just one of them. The win would still be a loss for Microsoft since it would expose 95% of their patents as potentially invalid. Imagine the huge drop in future licensense fees....
        • It is clear that android

          Does infringe on Microsoft patents, you can safely refrain from using the quotation marks.

          The only Android oem that still doesn't pay Microsoft has an import ban hanging in the air.
          Active sync and usage of the fat file system are non frand patents and you normally pay up to use them.
    • Im sure there will be an W8 embedded and W8RT embedded that

      are inline with current W7 embedded and android prices. A dedicated reader can skip office 2013 etc.
      Johnny Vegas
    • Yeah, right!

      Microsoft charges its employees $50 for a single copy of Windows "top-f-the-line" OS. It is ridiculous to expect that OEMs pay anywhere near that much. Licensing fees are probably closer to $35 per license at OEM quantities!
      M Wagner
  • Good for them

    this way they may not go bankrupt i thought they were finished after talking behind the scene with MS but it seems they are not THAT stupid after all!
  • Would have been awfully risky

    I assume they only have ARM experience in their corporate tablet DNA ... i would think trying to push WinRT onto their known hardware architecture, while reworking the interface to maintain their distinctive Nook UI, would have been way too risky to attempt in that timeframe.
  • Scratch this off my list

    No Win8 means a non-starter. I have had enough of android.
  • Even B&N Knows Bad UI Design

    That and low reliability are what are steering them away from Windows. Metro = Extremely Poor Design
  • Oh Well...

    "Wook" is in the works, wait for it..
  • Nook has the best of all worlds for consuming content

    High quality screen for reading books and watching films, a free operating system and the right to redskin next year's Android that might include annotation, translation and maps.
  • Why a Wook

    I would be perfectly happy with a B&N app on a slate. There is no need for a dedicated B&N tablet. I currently own a Color Nook but do most of my reading with my laptop. If I owned a slate, I would probably do all of it on it, at least indoors. I keep a regular E ink reader for that.
  • Too bad...

    If they had developed a Wook, they could have released a version for corporations called the Wook Intelligent Enterprise Edition, or WookIEE!

    Ok ok... I'm getting my coat...
  • No Big Surprise

    Did anybody really expect that the "NewCo" agreement was about anything other than Microsoft paying off B&N to keep quiet about the (in)validity of Microsoft's patents?
    • A lot of stu..., err..., silly speculation there, bub...

      but, since your history is pretty well known regarding your hate for anything Microsoft, what could one expect but more nonsense from you?
  • The Windows faithful want a nook app for W8/WP8, not a Wook

    The B&N faithful are probably hoping for a wook in the future though.
    Johnny Vegas