The real story behind the big Microsoft and B&N deal

How could Microsoft and Barnes & Noble launch a historic joint venture when they were at each others' throats a few month ago? Read on

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Who's in the middle of all of it? If you guessed president-without-portfolio Lees, you'd be right. In a Microsoft statement, Lees said, "the shift to digital is putting the world's libraries and newsstands in the palm of every person's hand, and is the beginning of a journey that will impact how people read, interact with, and enjoy new forms of content. Our complementary assets will accelerate e-reading innovation across a broad range of Windows devices, enabling people to not just read stories, but to be part of them. We're at the cusp of a revolution in reading."

The Associated Press says that B&N CEO William Lynch "declined to say whether it was Barnes & Noble or Microsoft that initiated the discussions, but he said the talks had been going on since before the beginning of the year." AP then quotes Lees as saying, "We have been circling the relationship for quite a long time... When you think of different types of reading and what's going to happen when that goes digital, it's really quite dramatic to be bringing that to Windows customers."

Er, "to Windows customers"?

Too bad 90 percent of the people who buy a Nook couldn't care less if it's built on Android. Hard to imagine they'd care if it were built on Windows RT.

Where does that leave us in the ongoing Microsoft Executive Suite shuffle? To my jaundiced eye, it puts one Microsoft veteran in charge of Nokia, another Microsoft veteran in charge of the Wookie. Smartphones, check. Tablets, check. Myerson is working for Sinofsky even if the org chart doesn't say so.

Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone 8 "Apollo" are all coming around October, and Office 15 will be widely available in beta (er, Consumer Preview) by then, too, with a shipping version late this year or early next year. The product roads are converging.

Looks to me like everything's set for a transition from Ballmer to Sinofsky -- over the span of many years, of course -- to commence in early 2013, as I predicted almost a year ago.

This story, "The real story behind the big Microsoft and B&N deal," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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