Microsoft's new investment in the future of digital reading

We are excited about the opportunity digital reading has to provide new avenues for personalized learning to help students and teachers realize their full potential. Today, Microsoft announced a strategic partnership with Barnes & Noble to develop future innovations to accelerate e-reading across a broad range of Windows devices. One of the first outcomes of this partnership will be a Windows 8 app bringing one of the world’s largest digital libraries to hundreds of millions of Windows customers in the U.S. and internationally. Combining the technology assets of Barnes & Noble and Microsoft will enable faster, more compelling innovation in the e-reading market around digital content consumption, creation, and publishing.

This partnership is affirmation of the increasing shift and force of digital reading and digital learning. There is a fundamental shift occurring in the way people are reading and this new partnership with Barnes & Noble positions Microsoft to be at the heart of that revolution and accelerate it. In the next three years, e-books are forecast to grow to a third of overall books sold from less than 5% today. According to a recent Pew Internet Research study, there are four times more people reading e-books on a typical day now than was the case less than two years ago. As I've blogged about before, what's most exciting is how technology will enable a more immersive reading experience, as people begin to engage with content in fundamentally new ways, through annotations, multimedia, real-time updates, collaboration and sharing.

Today, education customers can get digital textbooks through a number of major e-reader applications on Windows 7 such as Amazon’s Kindle e-reader, Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader, and Kno’s web e-reader, and we'll continue to partner with many companies in this space and directly with publishers. We count amongst our strategic partners who use and build on our technology, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Cornelsen, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Santillana, John Wiley and Sons and many others across the globe. Microsoft recently held its first annual Education Publisher Summit where we had the opportunity to gather dozens of leading publishers together that we work with around the world to talk about the state of publishing and the increasing role technology is playing...not only to change the state of readng but to fundamentally transform learning. I think one thing in common among the folks in the room is the shared aspiration to go beyond books. We need to think about how learning objects and the use of digital technology in new and immersive ways can transform classrooms/learning environments and adapt to serve the needs of individual learners and teachers.

I think the goal is to actually look at the current state of technology in education, and the way in which people think about new devices and tablets as just the beginning of a changing future...or maybe the end of the first phase of technology's role.  We've got to now move beyond automation of technology to really think about transformation.  Certainly, we have a lot of work to do ahead. We’ve learned from our more than 20 years of experience in education, that putting a singular device in a classroom or in the hands of students does not go far enough to enrich the learning experience, and we expect much more innovation to continue from the marketplace. We are collectively working to help transform not just reading…but LEARNING...and at Microsoft, we are rolling up our sleeves to tackle the hard and meaningful problems to deliver REAL IMPACT for educators and students alike.