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Nokia And Microsoft To Produce Windows Phones [Updated]

David Gilbert


Nokia And Microsoft To Produce Windows Phones [Updated]

It’s a day many thought would never happen, but here it is. Nokia has just announced that it is going into partnership with Microsoft and that Windows Phone will be its primary mobile operating system. Whoa!

Let’s just take a minute to disgest what this will mean. Only a couple of days ago Nokia CEO, and former Microsoft executive, Stephen Elop spoke about Nokia being on a burning platform and needed to change its ways or perish. Well this announcement by Nokia and Microsoft is certainly a change and will send shockwaves through the mobile world. For the past couple of years Nokia has stood still in the smartphone market while iOS and Android-powered phones outshone them. This move to partner with Microsoft could be seen as Nokia’s final throw of the dice in the smartphone game.

Elop, in a video annoucnement, said consumers could expect “stellar hardware, innovative software and great services” from the new partnership. Microsoft chief, Steve Ballmer, added that his company would be bringing “the brands that consumers want” like Bing, Office and of course Xbox Live. The new alliance will see Nokia build on the Windows Phone platform in areas such as imaging where it is a market leader. As well as that, Nokia's Ovi Maps will be integrated into Bing and the Ovi Store will merge with Windows Marketplace.

"There are other mobile ecosystems. We will disrupt them. There will be challenges. We will overcome them. Success requires speed. We will be swift. Together, we see the opportunity, and we have the will, the resources and the drive to succeed," a joint statement from Ballmer and Elop told the Nokia Conversations website.

In the press release Nokia said that it would be helping to bring the Windows Phone platform to a larger range of price points meaning we could be seeing budget WP7 phones sooner rather than later. Microsoft’s adCenter will now also provide search advertising services on Nokia's line of devices and services.

But what I hear you ask of the beleaguered Symbian and the unknown quantity of MeeGo? Well neither is going away completely. MeeGo is to become an open source operating system. “MeeGo will place increased emphasis on longer-term market exploration of next-generation devices, platforms and user experiences. Nokia still plans to ship a MeeGo-related product later this year." Symbian on the other hand will become a franchise platform “leveraging previous investments to harvest additional value. This strategy recognizes the opportunity to retain and transition the installed base of 200 million Symbian owners. Nokia expects to sell approximately 150 million more Symbian devices in the years to come."

Obviously all this change has resulted in changes in management with the most high profile casualty coming when Alberto Torres, former head of MeeGo, quit yesterday. Not surprising really. Jo Harlow now becomes the main woman at the center of the Nokia's brave new world with Smart Devices responsibility for Symbian smartphones, MeeGo Computers and Strategic Business Operations.

Nokia in a final press release said it was unable to provide a revenue prediction for 2011 due to the uncertainty regarding its new alliance. Not surprising really considering the huge gamble (or not depending on your point of view) the company is taking. If you've managed to catch your breath let us know what you think of this very interesting news.

Update: Elop and Ballmer have just walked off stage at the Nokia Strategic Briefing this morning and they looked very pally with each other and professed cooperation and bringing products to market faster than before. Nothing else major was announced though Elop did go into why Nokia chose WP instead of Android or Symbian/MeeGo.

He said the internal option of going with Symbian and MeeGo was "concerning" as it was moving too slowly and the Android route would mean Nokia would find it hard to differentiate themselves from the sea of Android devices. He also said there would be significant reductions in R&D spending (which is no bad thing considering they spent $4 billion last year alone), also adding there would be significant reductions in employment in Finland and around the world. Not such good news. We'll bring you more as we get it from the Briefing in London.

Source: Nokia 1, 2, 3


February 11, 2011, 2:48 pm

Makes sense in a way. Nokia can produce great hardware but I always found their mid-range devices had a vastly superior build quality to the more expensive N series range.

I'd like to have seen Nokia producing phones running WM7 & Android though. WM7 needs a good while to mature into something decent. It lacks a lot of features its rivals have as standard.


February 11, 2011, 2:52 pm

"...a joint statement from Ballmer and Jobs told the Nokia Conversations website"

Steve Jobs has joined Nokia? Shome mishtake shurely?


February 11, 2011, 3:00 pm

Oh no... Microsoft in my computer, Mictosoft in my phone, I fear to open the fridge...

I like Nokia as a brand and I hope that they will eventually release MeeGo phone, as I'm not interested in buying WP7 phone. And I can't quite get your enthusiasm - you review of the WP7 platform was far from being enthusiastic - no multitasking, no copy/paste, no Flash support...

I had high hopes for N8 (I'm using 5800), but now I started considering HTC as my next device...


February 11, 2011, 3:06 pm

Very interesting - shame about Meego though. Tried Meego 1.1 on my N900 last night, saw potential - but that is the problem, potential only. In a comment on another site, apparently when Nokia installed Meego on the N9 it was very buggy whereas WP7 ran fine....


February 11, 2011, 3:19 pm

I'm really optimistic about this. Having tried WP7 I think it's just a few features and apps away from being a first class platform. All of the foundations are there and it's easily as good a user experience for the average person as iOS or Android.

Everyone one keeps going on about how Nokia has great hardware and rubbish software and this should answer that in one full swoop while giving WP7 much higher visibility than it currently enjoys.


February 11, 2011, 3:22 pm

Key phrase here is this one: "Success requires speed". Microsoft MUST turn around WP7 updates a darn site faster then they're doing now or both MS and Nokia will struggle to compete as Android and iOS (at the least, could add Blackberry and webOS in there as well) keep bringing out new features at a much faster rate. I'm still not entirely convinced that WP7 is a long-term platform for Microsoft, with their move to ARM processor support on Windows 8 I wouldn't be too surprised to see them try something stupid like putting full Windows on a smartphone...

That aside I see this as a heck of a good move for both companies. Microsoft NEED someone like Nokia to be exclusive to WP7 (or, at least, not make Android devices as well) in order to produce high end and distinctive hardware that lets them stand apart from the masses of almost identical handsets in the market right now. Nokia can provide that and, in so doing, form a very tight relationship with MS to help guide and develop the platform (and make sure to keep hold of their own innovations and prevent MS from giving them to all WP7 manufacturers, learn from Palm's history on this one Nokia). It also frees Nokia from the huge R&D requirements of developing two OS's and the connecting software layer and gives them some breathing room for long term planning.

The question for me is what happens to Nokia's current mid-range handsets? I assume they'll keep running Symbian for the time being but that's not sustainable in the long run. Is WP7 ever going to be a suitable S40 replacement? I'm not so sure, maybe that's what they intend MeeGo to become.

At the high end though this is a real win for WP7 and it'll be interesting to see what Android manufacturers do to combat it over the course of the next year or two.


February 11, 2011, 3:47 pm

Talk about diving into North Atlantic waters: I think they dived, hit a block of ice along the way and cracked their skulls, leaving Nokia in a coma for the years ahead.

Maybe that's why Elop only was 2 years at MS, after doing bugger all in the Office department Steve Ballmer finally said "Enough already. I have a new mission for you, go infiltrate Nokia and make us a killing."

Greg Shewan

February 11, 2011, 3:58 pm

@Gk.pm - My thoughts exactly! How convenient! This is bound to be an utter disaster, Nokia undoubtedly have a great grasp on hardware but to partner with a lackluster OS which is most likely... I stand corrected, is going to be marginalized is hardly promising.

Its like they have jumped off the burning platform and onto the sinking ship. 2 companies with 0% innovation in the last few years = a bunch of very disappointed share holders!


February 11, 2011, 4:01 pm

I guess as an ex MS employee, Elop's move isn't the craziest I have ever seen in the tech world. Trojan horse? In addition, as WP7 has hardly had stellar sales, I guess teaming up with Nokia gets them a degree of global coverage with a large hardware manufacturer. However, as a Nokia user for many years, the last thing I want is Microsoft's "me too" OS on my phone. Android here I come, I guess.


February 11, 2011, 4:08 pm

@BOFH UK " I'm still not entirely convinced that WP7 is a long-term platform for Microsoft, with their move to ARM processor support on Windows 8 I wouldn't be too surprised to see them try something stupid like putting full Windows on a smartphone..."

It's funny you say that becasue that's EXACTLY what I hope they do. WP7 on the phone, Windows 8 when I connect it to a "dock", Atrix style. Killer feature!


February 11, 2011, 4:17 pm

It's a bold move. Nokia needed to do something big, and they have. Can't say I'm particularly excited, though. I've never considered getting a WP7 phone, nor do I have any particular lust for Nokia phones style-wise. If I ever graduate from a dumbphone, I can't see myself getting anything other than an iPhone (for the choice of games, if nothing else). Or if Android phones get any cheaper than the San Francisco, I might just get one on impulse.

I think that Nokia are keeping meego development going on the backburner as an insurance policy, like Apple did with x86 OS X. If WP7 tanks, they need some plan B. They could of course go with Android, but in that case, could they really compete with HTC and ZTE?

Tim Sutton

February 11, 2011, 4:21 pm

Makes a lot of sense to me, after playing with it extensively WP7 would be my first choice for my next phone OS.

Its great people, honest. And for media playing its streets ahead of the rest.

Michael Hailu

February 11, 2011, 4:44 pm

I for one am excited, i have always thought that nokia made great hardware and cannot thank my e71 enough for its heroic battery life. Only downside to Nokia phones is that they have a dated OS. I also like WP7 purely because it is something different to what the masses have (I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't want to join everyone else on the apple or google badnwagon) I also love the zune interface. For me, its a win-win and can't wait for the first phone to be released. Will get a WP7 device soon, just to whet the whistle.


February 11, 2011, 4:47 pm

Another indication of the long haul approach by MS for WP7.

Despite what the haters might say WP7 is a great system right now. It has issues that need addressing but arguably still offers far more out of the box, and a better UX, than its rivals. Given time it will get better and better. This announcement confirms that it will get that time.

This announcement also means there will great hardware running WP7 and cheaper options on handsets. It will open the market to a lot of people who have never owned a smartphone. Winning over iOS and Android fanboys isn't necessary when you can go after the largest segment of the market.


February 11, 2011, 4:51 pm

@Tim Sutton ... well I am sold, after that convincing argument. Off to the shops to get rid of my Desire HD :-)


February 11, 2011, 4:51 pm

I feel slightly queasy at the thought of an OS that I rate very low, being on Nokia hardware, which historically I love. I've grown up with Nokia, my first being the 2110 - which conveniently doubled as a brick. Nokia have produced some iconic handsets over the years like the 6310, 9110, 7110, 5100 the list goes on, but what has kept me coming back time and again to Nokia, was their OS and UI.

I know a lot of people found them a bit fiddly and not so user friendly, but after spending some quality time with a Nokia (ahhh), the functionality of the OS outweighed any slight annoyances and their ability to carry out 'advanced' tasks was way ahead of the competition. Great battery life & support for enterprise, stuff just worked!

Now I know that they got themselves into a pickle - we've all been screaming at them on forums the past 5 years, and as a company we watched them lurch from one hideous mistake to another, seemingly blinded by their market share which seemed to paralyse the creative process - ie they got lazy. For that, they deserve all the cr@p that happens to them.

But, I think the biggest mistake Nokia has made in the past 20 years is not buying Palm. The second biggest is not delivering on MeeGo on time. And the third is partnering with the monster that is MS. Disaster for Nokia and all the values that made Nokia, Nokia. Disaster for the consumer, less choice in the market and the further proliferation of a horrible OS - WP7. Seriously - Bing, Xbox & Office - Who gives a $%!t? That is not what Nokia is about!

Never mind though, eh? I'm sure MS will do nicely out of the deal and i'll look for another straggly, punches-above-his-weight underdog OS to support :) Nokia is dead. Long live WebOS!


February 11, 2011, 5:18 pm

@lifethroughalens: I agree. Just yesterday I was wondering if Nokia would team up with HP instead. But that would have been too short a notice. HP is sitting on one of the most exciting OS's, they just needs to pick up some large partners.

As for Mr. Elops comment about differentiating from the competition. I don't get it. And if someone can explain it to me, it would make my Friday at least 5% better.

How does opting for WP7 make it easier for Nokia to differentiate themselves? Microsoft is controlling that platform 100%. You can hardly change the background color without consulting Redmond first.

Samsung, LG HTC´and even Dell all have WP7 phones. And they all look exactly the same, since there is no customizeability. At least Android allows you to add some features, make a skin and your own desktop application.

I can only see this as an epic win for Microsoft. But for Nokia... it is only a matter of time before that company is just an also ran... with a lot of cool patents from 20 year ago.


February 11, 2011, 5:33 pm

@Jesper - of course you can differentiate. MS only set minimum hardware requirements. The fact that HTC, Dell and the like haven't put distinct products out there is a failing on their part. That actually makes it an ideal way for Nokia to differentiate.

Forget about adding skins, desktop apps and bloatware. That's Android territory and fine if you like that kind of thing. WP7 works out of the box and doesn't need the same sort of hacks before it's usable.

What's more a lot of people don't want to hack around with launchers, task managers, market places, etc. They want a phone, out of the box, that's feature rich and pleasure to use. Step up WP7.

Simon J

February 11, 2011, 5:38 pm

Hmmm... I was thinking of buying a C7....If symbian development is going to be sidelined should I hold off....or will we see Symbian development continue for the next couple of years?


February 11, 2011, 5:54 pm

Nokia owned the mobile phone market, but failed to imagine a world beyond that, where Moore's Law meant you could easily fit a computer into a phone. It is no surprise that the computer companies were quicker to understand the potential.

Nokia got caught with it's pants down by the iPhone and Android, products that probably had years of secret development. The problem is, it's the OS that makes the difference. If you don't own the OS, you basically become a commodity manufacturer, in price competition with Taiwanese and Chinese companies. As Nokia don't have an exclusive license for WP7, it's hard to see what they can really bring to the party.


February 11, 2011, 6:15 pm

@JohnH Keep on dreaming, WP7 is slick, but is severely lacking in features Compared to IOS & Android.

@Jesper your right Android is a much better fit for Nokia then WP7, why not produce hardware for both.

This is very bad news I was looking forward to meego, Intel must be p*""ed.

Epop = Microsoft plant.


February 11, 2011, 6:44 pm

Seems like a good partnership to me so long as other manufacturer's continue to produce WP7 handsets and don't get sidelined by the Nokia/MS deal. WP7 is a very nice O/S to use, and to me at least, it seems alot easier to use than android and in theory updates should be smoother, but proof will be when the 1st update rolls out sometime soon.


February 11, 2011, 7:00 pm


Agreed with the first half of your post. Symbian and WM6.5 remain by far the most powerful OSs for productivity use. As a Symbian phone user, I recently bought an Android tablet and am hugely disappointed to find that simple things like printing to my bluetooth printer (yes, I have tried all the available apps and none is compatible with a Canon ip100) and downloading attachments from secure MS Exchange servers are simply not possible. These are things I take for granted and absolutely rely on and use daily on Symbian, as I used to on WM6.5 before that.

With the fall of WM6.5, there was only one option available for full functionality - hence my move from WM to Symbian 18 months ago. With WP7, MS has had to sacrifice lots of useful functionality just to compete in the new dumbed-down smartphone world created by Apple.

Now, with the fall of Symbian, there isn't a single OS on the market that fulfills my requirements, simple as they are. How crazy is that - things going backwards so fast, and all because of iOS and Apple's priorities.

I was hopeful that WP7 would eventually mature to the point where it recovered the functionality lost from WM6.5, but if that was ever going to happen, it was going to take time. The news that the two traditional proponents of proper functionality as a priority over gloss and sheen is really exciting. My fingers are crossed.


February 11, 2011, 7:04 pm

@LetsGo - sigh, you can take a horse to water...

Mad Iguana

February 11, 2011, 7:27 pm

I'm surprised at this. And personally a little disappointed, as someone who owns an N8, likes it and was looking forward to all the juicy updates I'd be getting in the next year.

Whether it's a good partnership for MS (Phone division - obviously it won't really matter immediately to the company as a whole) and Nokia depends on speed to market.

For both cos., they won't sell a whole heap of new generation phones between now and the first Nokia/WP7 launch. I know HTC/Samsung/LG have WP7 phones, but they're hardly going to push them out the door too much without knowing how much differentiation Nokia can offer. If Nokia are a preferred partner and get better customisation and other capabilities that the others don't have, well why wouldn't they just focus on Android?

And on the other side, who will buy a Nokia Symbian smartphone when it'll be largely obsolete and unsupported some time in 2012?

Sure, MS will continue to sell some WP7 phones and Nokia will continue to sell lots of S40 phones, but if the first devices are not good, quick and price-competitive this will be a disaster for everyone.

Which is why it probably won't be a disaster - two such big companies have staked so much on it that I doubt it'll go too badly.

On the flip side, I'm most surprised of all that Symbian is being put out to pasture. It leaves Nokia far too reliant on MS as a software supplier - the reliance is only going one way at the moment, and if WP7 doesn't work, Nokia have no back up plan.

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