What does Microsoft/Nokia deal mean for Windows Mobile?

Longtime mobile adversaries Microsoft and Nokia last week announced a partnership to integrate Microsoft Office software into upcoming Symbian smartphones, a move the firms hope will loosen Research In Motion's dominance among enterprise users. Per terms of the agreement, Microsoft and Nokia will jointly design, develop and market productivity solutions targeting mobile professionals, bringing Microsoft Office Mobile and Microsoft business communications, collaboration and device management software to a range of smartphones, beginning with Nokia's Eseries portfolio--the companies will also team to market the solutions to businesses, carriers and subscribers.

Although the Nokia deal boosts Microsoft's visibility in the mobile enterprise arena, it does pose major questions about the role the beleaguered Windows Mobile operating system will play in the software giant's future plans. Research firm Gartner contends the partnership could herald the platform's imminent demise: "Despite loud protestations that Microsoft is deeply committed to WinMo, they wouldn't have needed this alliance with Nokia if WinMo were the leading smartphone operating system," writes Gartner analyst Nick Jones in a blog post on the agreement. "I've noted before in my blog that I am becoming more concerned about [Windows Mobile's] future and I worry that WM7 could even be the last throw of the dice. Imagine you're [Microsoft CEO] Steve Balmer, and in two years time WinMo was still 4th in smartphone market share. How much longer would you keep throwing money at it?"

Gartner data indicates that Windows Mobile controls less than 10 percent of the global smartphone OS market, compared to 51 percent for Symbian. "Over the next couple of years Microsoft will face greater competition in mobile email, unified communications and collaboration from a wide range of organizations such as Cisco, Google and RIM," Jones adds. "Being available on Symbian--the dominant smartphone platform--will help Microsoft fight these competitors."

For more on the Microsoft/Nokia deal:
- read this InformationWeek article

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