updated 10:55 pm EST, Mon February 22, 2010
Microsoft deal may hint at Courier plans
Amazon and Microsoft tonight agreed to a cross-licensing deal for each other's patents. The deal gives Microsoft special access to technology behind the Kindle reader as well as Amazon's implementation of Linux on servers. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, including what technology Amazon would get, but the online retailer will pay Microsoft an unmentioned sum as part of the transaction.
Microsoft hasn't said what its plans are for the deal but acknowledged that the move would help it be "more creative and collaborative" and speed up the launch of "new and compelling products."
The agreement fuels speculation that Microsoft is intent on entering the e-reader market and comes amid continued talk of of the Courier tablet still being in development. The Windows developer has only had an incidental interest in e-books but is believed to have sparked development of the dual touchscreen, agenda-like device both to assert itself in the space and to rethink its definition of a tablet computer. Microsoft has never officially confirmed the widely leaked Courier, but the existence of the iPad may pressure Microsoft into turning the device into a real product to prevent Apple from cornering the category.
Reasons for the Linux server portion of the cross-license are less clear but could involve cloud-based services like the Kindle's Whispersync for automatic downloads and the S3 online storage service.