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Microsoft Removes Ebooks from the Microsoft Store

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Microsoft launched the Microsoft Store as the “Windows Store” with Windows 8. At the time, it had a plethora of categories like apps, music, video, and ebooks. Now, it has a much narrower focus. After previously ditching music, the Microsoft Store has dropped ebooks. It’s not hard to see why, but this is still yet another argument against buying digital content from Microsoft.

As of April 2, Microsoft stopped selling ebooks. The few consumers who purchased ebooks from Microsoft won’t be left in the lurch, though. Pre-orders are already canceled, and the refunds should be processing. Books you already own will be available until July 2019, at which time the service will close completely. At that point, users will get a refund for all the books they’ve purchased. Unfortunately, any notes you’ve made in books are going away with the books this summer. Microsoft will offer another $25 account credit to anyone who is losing notes.

Demand for books in the Microsoft Store was, by all accounts, almost non-existent. There is no dedicated e-reader hardware for Microsoft’s platform. Amazon has the Kindle, Apple has the iPad, and even Google has throngs of giant Android phones for its woefully undersupported Play Books store.

Microsoft’s books opened in the Edge browser on all supported devices. For Microsoft, the e-reader of choice was supposed to be the Surface computers. While these devices look a bit like tablets, they have more in common with laptops. They run more powerful hardware that won’t last as long on a charge, and the size and weight make them less comfortable to hold.

Microsoft is also in the midst of a move to Chromium as its web engine of choice, so it would have to either re-implement its e-reader functionality in a new browser or just give up. It (understandably) chose to give up. After all, it would have to sell a huge number of books to make any significant amount of money from it. Most of the sale price goes to publishers.

This is the new reality for Microsoft. There was a time when it could muscle its way into every facet of our digital lives, but those days are long gone. Amazon rules ebooks, and everyone else is playing catch up. Microsoft isn’t in a position to keep plowing money into fights it has already lost.

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