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Microsoft & Nokia Announce New Relationship

Microsoft and Nokia have entered into an alliance that was described in this morning's press release as "a groundbreaking, enterprise-grade solution for mobile productivity." The software and mobile phone leaders will begin collaborating immediately on the design, development and marketing of productivity solutions for the mobile professional, bringing Microsoft Office Mobile and Microsoft business communications, collaboration and device management software to Nokia's Symbian devices supported by a broad range of Nokia smartphones. The Nokia Eseries will be the first models to support the Microsoft solutions.Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop said:

With more than 200 million smartphone customers globally, Nokia is the world's largest smartphone manufacturer and a natural partner for us. Today's announcement will enable us to expand Microsoft Office Mobile to Nokia smartphone owners worldwide and allow them to collaborate on Office documents from anywhere, as part of our strategy to provide the best productivity experience across the PC, phone and browser.

The two companies, though mobile operating system rivals, previously worked together to allow Nokia mobile phone user access to Microsoft Exchange Server using Exchange ActiveSync, and in 2007 the two reached an agreement to have Windows Live services run on Nokia's cellular phones. Next year Nokia plans to ship Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile on its smartphone models, followed by other Office applications and related software and services in the future. Features and services will include:

* The ability to view, edit, create and share Office documents on more devices in more places with mobile-optimized versions of Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft OneNote

* Enterprise instant messaging and presence, and optimized conferencing and collaboration experience with Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile

* Mobile access to intranet and extranet portals built on Microsoft SharePoint Server

* Enterprise device management with Microsoft System Center

The alliance between Microsoft and Nokia is a positive for the hundreds of millions of mobile business phone users who will no longer have to select one platform or the other from the two companies. Working together, instead of competing, is in the best interest of both companies. The number of smartphones operating as extensions behind private enterprise communications networks is growing as part of the overall industry trend of mobilization, and is something Microsoft hopes to leverage as part of its OCS strategy to replace traditional premises communications systems. Microsoft already leads the market for desktop software applications and is now better positioned to assume the leadership role for mobile communications devices as well.

As I wrote in my post yesterday, the role and importance of traditional desktop telephone instruments will decline during the coming years as a more computer savvy and mobile workforce dominates the landscape. No one, including Microsoft, postulates that desktop telephones will disappear overnight, but market demand for alternative options is growing. Soft client solutions are lower priced, high performance options that have been percolating for several years. Microsoft's overall enterprise communications strategy takes this into account, and without an aging installed base of cabinets and telephones to worry about, the company is positioning itself at forefront of the wave of the future, similar to how Cisco portrayed itself at the beginning of the IP telephony era ten years ago.