In an unexpected move, Microsoft announced the discontinuation of its eBook reader software, the Microsoft Reader. The full discontinuation will take place on 08/30/2012. Users who have purchased .lit eBooks will be able to download their books until that date, but all new sales will cease as of 10/7/2011. No explanation has been provided by Microsoft in regards to this decision.
It is likely that this discontinuation is related to the fact that the reader was built around the now antiquated .lit file format, and that it was time for a change. The Microsoft Reader download is the grandfather of all eBook reader programs, introduced in 2000 as a free service which allowed people to read eBooks on their PDAs instead of their computer screens for the first time. The Reader sparked initial production of dedicated eBook readers that are available on the market today.
There is some speculation that Microsoft is ending this era of eBook reading as they embark into the tablet age, but that has yet to be seen.