Business makes some strange bedfellows, and somewhere in the patent suit that Microsoft lobbed at Barnes & Noble a corporate romance bloomed. Now the Redmond software giant has invested a whopping $300 million into the bookseller’s newly formed digital and college division, which will almost certainly take over the growing Nook e-reader business. Microsoft will own 17.6% of the unnamed subsidiary, with Barnes & Noble owning the other 82.4% (virtual value: $1.4 billion).
The partnership comes after the patent suit brought by Microsoft was settled on undisclosed terms, with Microsoft licensing the patents in question for the Nook tablets and e-readers. Barnes & Noble claims that the deal will “significantly expand the [e-reader] business,” though exactly how wasn’t mentioned. Microsoft could be throwing in its licensing deals from the Zune and Xbox Live services to help expand music and video offerings on the Nook Tablet and Nook Color, though nothing’s confirmed at this point. It’s possible that B&N could switch to Windows Phone for future tablets, but given the software’s closed source nature that’s very unlikely.
Barnes & Noble has said that it intends to develop a Nook application for Windows 8, likely taking advantage of the new ARM-based version to allow for Windows tablets to have easy access to Nook ebooks. This probably won’t affect the Android versions of the Nook app – like its competitors, B&N is interested in getting its content on as many screens as possible. Currently Nook apps are offered on Android, iOS, Windows and Mac, but not Windows Phone 7.