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 available, 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 returns 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 think 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 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 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.
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Several years ago, Microsoft was looking at ebooks as a critical 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.
Customers looking to buy books from the Microsoft Store will no longer be able to do so. The book store, hosted within the Microsoft Store on Windows 10 and online, is going away. Customers who have previously purchased books from the Microsoft Store will be receiving refunds, as those customers will not be able to access they already paid for books after July 31.
This is the second major content category to be pulled from the Microsoft Store after the Music category was pulled back in 2017. The book store being removed is unfortunate. However, not many people were likely using this Store, to begin with, especially with the likes of Kindle on the market.
One of the primary reasons Microsoft is probably killing its book store is because, with Edge's move to Chromium, it will no longer have book integration.
Interestingly, Microsoft's book reader app was on Windows 10 was Microsoft Edge, the default browser that comes with Windows 10. Now that Edge is moving over to Chromium.
Microsoft has likely decided it's not worth bringing over the infrastructure to support a book ecosystem, especially if very few people are using it. For those who did buy books from the Microsoft Store, the company says refunds will be automatically sent out after July 2019.
This is an unfortunate blow for the Microsoft Store, but one that makes sense. Nobody was buying books from the Microsoft Store, because there's nowhere to read them.
There's no app on iOS or Android that allows you to take your Microsoft Store books with you. If you're buying digital books, you're either doing it on Amazon or Apple's platforms, not Microsoft's.
Following are the Reasons Microsoft removes the Books category from the Microsoft Store:-
- Includes a fix for Game Mode that ensures the feature will no longer impact your experiences when using the industry’s top streaming and recording software.
- Enables activation of insider builds of Windows 10 Enterprise for Virtual Desktops in Microsoft Azure. Microsoft Azure is the only tested and supported platform to host Windows 10 Enterprise for Virtual Desktops, which is a key part of Windows Virtual Desktop.
- Addresses an issue that may cause the loss of Favorites or the Reading List in Microsoft Edge after updating the operating system.
- Addresses an issue that causes Internet Explorer to stop working while browsing randomly.
- Addresses an issue with scrolling ActiveX content in a window in Internet Explorer 11 during a user-triggered scroll operation.
- Addresses an issue that prevents the operating system from loading new icon files if it encounters a poorly formatted icon file.
- Updates time zone information for São Tomé and Príncipe.
- Updates time zone information for Kazakhstan.
- Updates time zone information for Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- Addresses an issue that prevents the “Turn off app notifications on the lock screen” policy from working. The path is “Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Logo.”
- Addresses an issue in which the graphics device interface (GDI) DeleteObject() may cause the calling process to stop working when both of the following conditions are true.
Part of a reason for canceling the booking service is to streamline the focus of its Microsoft Store. When the company rolled out its eBook service, it didn’t have much of a strategy for competing with other services like Apple Books, Google Play Books, and the big one, Amazon.
At the time of our first look at the service, we mentioned that the services’ lack of options didn’t bode well for its future.