Microsoft, Nokia Partner for Smartphones

Freshly-minted Nokia CEO Stephen Elop -- the former President of the Business Division at Microsoft -- today announced the outlines of a broad partnership between Nokia and his former employer that will see Windows Phone 7 become the only OS for high-end Nokia smartphones.

More details of the partnership will be available in the near future, but today's Nokia announcement revealed that Windows Phone will become the standard OS for all new Nokia smartphones, and that Symbian -- once Nokia's phone OS of choice -- will fade into obscurity. Nokia will still make less capable and less expensive phones such as the Nokia Series 40 handsets. (Nokia sells more than a million Series 40 handsets a day, especially in emerging markets.) Bing will become the default search provider for all Nokia devices, while Nokia's application store will be merged with Microsoft Marketplace.

News of the partnership isn't entirely unexpected, as rumors of a Nokia-Microsoft tie-up have been circulating since Elop left Microsoft to join Nokia in September 2010. In a statement provided along with the press announcement, Elop said that "Nokia and Microsoft will combine our strengths to deliver an ecosystem with unrivalled global reach and scale. It’s now a three-horse race."

An editorial aside: Isn't it essentially a four-horse race, with Apple, Google, RIM, and now Nokia/Microsoft? Elop may have attempted to dismiss RIM with that comment, but RIM currently holds far more marketshare than Windows Phone 7, especially in the enterprise. Maybe that was wishful thinking on Elop's part?

Elop recently penned a scathing memo to Nokia employees, a memo that Engadget has posted in its entirety. In that memo, Elop tells Nokia staff that "...while competitors poured flames on our market share, what happened at Nokia? We fell behind, we missed big trends, and we lost time. At that time, we thought we were making the right decisions; but, with the benefit of hindsight, we now find ourselves years behind."

We're covering the news from a variety of angles: You can read Paul Thurrott's take on the Nokia-Microsoft news, then read Kevin Fitchard's commentary on the partnership over at Connected Planet. Anne Grubb discusses what this news may mean for application developers, while Brian Reinholz writes about two possible outcomes of the partnership. Finally, our Exchange and Outlook expert Brian Winstead offers up his perspective on the news of the day as well.

Do you think this a positive move for both Microsoft and Nokia, or is this a desperate move by two companies who separately can't gain any traction in the smartphone market? Add a comment to this post and tell us what you think.

Follow Windows IT Pro on Twitter at @windowsitpro

Follow Jeff James on Twitter at @jeffjames3

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