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Windows 8 to Show Up On eReaders?

The Register has an interesting story today on Microsoft’s plans for their next generation of Windows 8. According to Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s COO, they want to see the OS be loaded on to any number of devices, including ereaders.

“Microsoft will be this year the first company on the planet to have a consistent UI from the smart phone to the tablet to the slate, to the reader to the rich client and to the TV with our Metro UI,” he said. “We know the power of getting that consistent user experience is something our whole product portfolio will benefit from.”

This could indeed happen (assuming Win8 runs in ARM chips), but I don’t think it’s likely nor do I care all that much.

I’m kinda looking forward to seeing Windows 8 show up on tablets, but I don’t care if it shows up on an ereader. First and foremost, most ereaders ship with the OS hidden from the user. That means it doesn’t matter if it’s running Windows CE (Ectaco Jetbook Color), Win8, Linux (Kindles, Kobo Touch), or Android (Nooks). Until someone hacks the device to get at the OS you usually cannot even tell which OS it is.

Also, if the device is a basic ereader (no Wifi or touchscreen) then I don’t think it will even be worth hacking. There’s not much you can with it, given the limited hardware. And if it does have decent specs then it will quickly be hacked into a tablet, just like the Nook Touch or Nook Color.

We’re probably going to see Win8 on ATMs, signage, cash registers, and other places you don’t expect (but can find Windows now). I’m not all that excited about those possibilities, either.  If I cannot use the underlying OS then it doesn’t matter to me what it is.

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Ellen Hage March 19, 2012 um 8:28 pm

I would be interested if it meant a re-boot of MS reader as in the lit format.

Nate Hoffelder March 19, 2012 um 8:36 pm

Sorry. MS killed that already.

And besides, that format is now less capable than Epub2. It’s time to move forward.

yuzutea March 19, 2012 um 8:47 pm

Don’t the technical requirements for WOA licensing mean that this would be an incredibly overpowered e-reader?

Nate Hoffelder March 20, 2012 um 9:09 am

Yeah, that confused me too. The requirements for the consumer version of Win8 are a 1GHz CPU, 1GB RAM, and 16GB of storage. If the ereader has similar specs then it will surpass the specs of most of my tablets.

fjtorres March 20, 2012 um 12:15 pm

Well, but that is for the consumer computing version.
A Win8 Embedded release would definitely not care about storage and odds are RAM requirement would also be lower. Even CPU requirement would be likely be relaxed as there would be little call for background processes in an ereader implementation.
Do consider that Win8 Arm will be superceding WinCE so, yes, it *will* show up everywhere WinCE is in use today.

Xyzzy March 21, 2012 um 3:49 am

The Sony Readers before T1 all run MontaVista Linux; one article I just ran across claims the Kindle DX, Illiad, Hanlin eReader v3, and Hanvon all run custom Linux distributions as well. (I’m not counting Android Linux devices, of course.)

Hacking non-touchscreen devices can definitely be worthwhile, just with a different purpose: instead of giving it a completely different purpose (as with the Nook Touch), the hacks then add features or abilities. PRS+ for pre-T1 Sony Readers is a good example: it adds a dictionary, customizable key bindings, book history, support for custom epub CSS, games, a built-in fb2 to epub converter, and the ability to browse/favorite folders & open files from there, plus it’s localized to a bunch of different languages.

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