The surprising news that Microsoft had inked a deal with Barnes & Noble to both settle their Android patent dispute and form an ebook partnership caught everyone off-guard. Mary-Jo Foley has all of the details of the deal, but in a nutshell Microsoft paid B&N $300 million to settle its lawsuit and buy into a spin-off of the Nook ebook business of B&N.
This is not Microsoft's first foray into the ebook world, its Microsoft Reader was one of the first ebook ecosystems. That system was based on the old Windows Mobile platform, and users will fondly (or not) remember the .LIT files it used. Microsoft Reader first gave us the great ClearType technology which eventually migrated to other Microsoft products.
This new deal has analysts wondering if we will see a Nook running Windows 8 in the future, or perhaps Windows Phone. Nooks currently use a variant of Android, the basis for the patent infringement suit from Microsoft. According to reports, in spite of the settlement B&N must still pay a royalty to Microsoft for each Nook sold with Android, so it makes sense for a switch to the new partner's OS.
While a Nook with the OS would be nice, if this happens it might send a bad message about Windows Phone. First Microsoft is paying what is believed to be over a billion dollars to Nokia to make phones with Windows Phone. That's not paying dividends so far.
A Windows Phone version of the Nook would have that $300 million price tag associated with it. That and the Nokia deal would make it appear that Windows Phone is the best mobile device money can buy. Maybe not customer's money, but Microsoft's money. Heck, maybe if Microsoft paid LG big bucks it would still be making Window Phones.