A recent software leak of Microsoft's new-look Windows 10 operating system suggests that the company could be set to reconsider selling ebooks, some two years after it had walked away from digital bookselling.
In 2014, Microsoft came extremely close to clinching a deal with publishers Barnes & Noble to distribute its Nook app via their software, but having invested a reported $300m in proposals, talks collapsed, leaving Microsoft moving entirely away from the e-reader app market.
The leak appears to show a specific bookselling section within the next Windows 10 update for mobile devices. Although publishers are not getting too carried away, the rumour has certainly given the industry a shot in the arm.
Gordon Wise, Literary Agent and Head of the Association of Authors' Agents, said: "A lot of business goes through one retailer, so it is always very helpful to have other people taking up a book offering."
MSPowerUser leaked the early pictures of the new digital bookselling store, which is rumoured to be integrated into the Windows Store for both desktop and mobile platforms - further strengthening Microsoft's retail arm, with music, apps, games and films the staple fare to date. The proposed service would also integrate seamlessly with Microsoft Edge, the company's own web browser.
When quizzed on a potential arrival into the ebook market, a Microsoft spokeswoman attempted to pour cold water on the claims, insinuating that the leak may have been an effort by Microsoft to gauge the level of consumer interest.
"We regularly test new features, and changes to existing features, to see what resonates well with our fans... stay tuned for more information soon," the spokeswoman said to the Guardian this week.
The publishing industry will be a tough nut to crack for Microsoft in terms of negotiating the terms of supply. Any demands for 'freemium' content are unlikely to be welcomed by publishers who remain driven to maintaining the value of their books.
Google and Amazon have long been the go-to source of electronic books, but it's hoped that Microsoft's entry to the marketplace is not too late.