The internet’s two biggest brand names, Microsoft and, are to open a joint online store vending downloadable electronic books. These will be designed for reading via PCs and hand-held devices including WAPphones. The agreement, announced Monday, implants Microsoft technolgy at the core of this emergent market.

Microsoft's Reader e-book software claims an eyeball-friendlier screen environment for reading large amounts of text, enhancing the typefaces and offering an illusion of turning pages. It is one of a number of rival packages vying to dominate the new market for downloadable reading.

Showing neither fear nor favoritism but clearly eager for fee, the software giant signed a similar deal last month with Amazon’s deadliest online rival Barnes & Noble. In both cases, Microsoft will carve a percentage from every ‘book’ sold.

News source: Financial Times