This is similar to Amazon's recent Kindle Fire update, which also disabled root access. In the case of the Nook Tablet, the changes in the update arguably make more significant changes, but at the same time they are easier to get around for the average user.
In addition to killing root access, the Nook Table update turns off sideloading support, a notable advantage it had over the Kindle Fire out of the box. However, if you have installed third party apps prior to the update, they will continue to work.
You can also reportedly downgrade to the original ROM by flashing the factory image your Nook Tablet came with. That means if you need to install or update a third party app it's possible to do by downgrading, installing all your third party apps, and then upgrading again.
Of course this will involve wiping out any other data you've added while you've had your tablet, so it's not an ideal solution. It is, however, more friendly for less technical people since it doesn't require rooting the tablet.
On the other hand, there is a workaround available for the Kindle Fire which allows you to keep root access by using a modified update file. No such solution seems to exist for the Nook Tablet just yet. Right now you must choose between root access and bug fixes.
The bigger question here is whether this cat and mouse game is worth the time and effort for either Amazon or Barnes & Noble. The obvious reason for both companies to impose these restrictions is to lock you into buying content from them.
However, the question of whether the restrictions will result in more sales than angry customers remains. Both companies seem to be betting the benefits outweigh any customer losses, and perhaps as long as they keep their price advantage over the competition that's true.
But it seems likely the competition will only increase in the coming months. At some point locking down the tablet reaches the point of diminishing returns. If they put too much emphasis on restrictions at the expense of customer satisfaction, other companies may be ready to take their customers.
Written by: Rich Fiscus @ 23 Dec 2011 3:00