Microsoft/Nokia Partnership Announced, WP7 Update in March

What a lot of news out lately, with the announcement of the partnership between Microsoft and Nokia, and Steve Ballmer’s keynote at Mobile World Congress Monday laying out the roadmap for Windows Phone 7 in 2011. This week we’ll cover this news as well as note the first leaked images of a Nokia/Microsoft concept phone.

Nokia and Microsoft Announce Partnership

After a considerable amount of speculation and rumor, Microsoft and Nokia announced a partnership last week. The announcement said that Nokia would adopt Windows Phone as its principal smartphone strategy, while it would contribute its strengths in the areas of hardware design, geographic distribution, and broad market segments.

The New York Times described the partnership as a “last-ditch effort†for the two companies to gain a foothold in the smartphone market. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 is far behind the iPhone and Android phones, and Nokia’s market share has been plummeting.

Nokia was so desperate to reverse the trend that last September the company hired a new CEO. Stephen Elop is a former Microsoft executive — and the first-ever non-Finnish CEO for Nokia. Elop really stirred things up within Nokia in the days before the announcement, sending out an internal memo that was brutally honest and described Nokia’s Symbian software as a “burning platform.†You can see the original on Engadget, and one with helpful commentary on Windows Phone Thoughts.

Apparently all of this has been a challenge for Nokia’s employees to digest, and on the day of the partnership announcement, a bunch of them walked out, using their flextime to take a break and perhaps signal their concern with the changes.

Microsoft and Nokia subsequently posted an open letter, giving more detail about how the companies will work together. The letter concludes with a rhetorical flourish: “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.â€

I hope their achievement matches their lofty rhetoric. According to PCWorld, Microsoft will pay out billions as part of the deal, and essentially won a bidding war with Google to power the Nokia platform.

Photos Appear of Nokia WP7 Concept Phones

Even as the partnership was being announced, images of Nokia/Microsoft phones in development were already leaking. Engadget posted images of some colorful concept phones in the works.

What to Expect for Windows Phone in 2011

According to an overview posted on PocketNow, Steve Ballmer took the stage for a keynote at Mobile World Congress yesterday in Barcelona — a year after first announcing Windows Phone 7 at the same venue. In his talk he spoke about what’s coming up in 2011 for Windows Phone 7.

The long-awaited first update will appear in the first two weeks of March. As expected, it will include copy/paste and a boost in speed. CDMA support will come in the first half of this year, opening the way for Windows Phones from Verizon and Sprint. In the second half of 2011, we’ll see Twitter integration, cloud storage, and Internet Explorer 9.

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