Barnes & Noble may be mainly a book seller, but we've given their various Nook devices quite a bit of attention here regardless. Not only are the Nooks based on Android and fairly good media consumption devices when stock, you can also root and install custom ROMs to make them into full Android tablets.
However, these Android devices have also gotten the company into some hot water with Microsoft, who was suing them over some patents supposedly infringed by Android and their Nook devices. Today, that conflict came to an end, but not in a way that anyone expected. Instead of some sort of settlement or patent invalidation, Microsoft has now entered a strategic partnership with Barnes and Noble.
More specifically, Microsoft has spent $300 million dollars for a %17.6 share in the subsidiary of Barnes & Noble that deals with the Nook, not the entire company. While this obviously means that Barnes & Noble will retain most control of the division, Microsoft now has a say and vested interest in the Nook platform. The first result of this change is that there will be a native Nook app for Windows 8 smartphones and tablets, but beyond that plans aren't clear.
The purpose of this partnership is supposedly to create some competition for Amazon and Apple in the eBook space, but it could also have some interesting implications for the next Nook. Will Barnes & Noble continue to use Android, or will Microsoft force them to switch to something like Windows 8? Personally, I'm partial to Android, but a Windows 8 based 7-inch tablet/reader would be quite intriguing as well, so I'll be watching to see what comes out of this.[TechCrunch]