Microsoft removes the Books category from the Microsoft Store

Microsoft has pulled Books from the Microsoft Store and is planning to offer customers who've purchased any ebooks via the Store refunds, as their books will no longer be accessible as of July, 2019.

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Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is removing the Books category from the Microsoft Store as of today, April 2. This means users will no longer be able to buy, rent or pre-order books via the Store beginning now.

Previously purchased books and rentals will be accessible until early July, but after this, books will no longer be accessible, officials said in a customer-support article today. The company is promising full refunds for all content purchased from the Books category; anyone who bought books via the Store will receive further details on how to get refunds via email from Microsoft. 

Microsoft's official reason for the move is it's attempting to streamline the strategic focus of the Microsoft Store, I hear. GIven the timing of this announcement, I'm thinking the decision may have something to do with Microsoft's next Windows 10 feature release (known as 1903, a k a the April 2019 Update) and/or the new Chromium-based Edge browser. Microsoft touted the current non-Chromium-based Edge browser as providing a superior reading experience for all kinds of content, including ebooks.

In some ways, I'm not surprised the company is doing this, given its retreat from many consumer-focused businesses, such as online music. Microsoft is continuing to offer games and movies & TV content through the Microsoft Store. 

I had thought at one point that Microsoft might do some kind of textbook store, given its focus on the education market. Instead, it seems Microsoft is looking to Teams as a way for educators and students to share content.

Several years ago, Microsoft was looking at ebooks as a key content category for the company. In 2012, Microsoft invested $300 million to create a separate Nook Media company with Barnes & Noble.Nook Media is the part of B&N that made Nook readers and also included the digital/College businesses from Barnes & Noble. The agreement was part of an Android patent-settlement dispute between Microsoft and Barnes & Noble. The pair terminated their deal in 2014.