Microsoft kicks Nokia when it's down

Nokia is in a hard place at the moment, probably feeling unloved by just about everyone.

In times such as these it would be slightly comforting if the company could turn to its key partners for some level of support and encouragement. But Microsoft seems to have pushed Nokia further into its pit of despair--if that's possible--by calmly saying that its forthcoming Windows Phone 8 operating system will not work with Nokia's existing line of Lumia smartphones.

The new Windows Phone 8 platform will change the existing smartphone operating systems so extensively that current Lumia devices will not have adequate horsepower to support Microsoft's latest attempt to offer some competition to Apple's iOS and Google's Android.

Nokia, which seemed caught on the hop by Microsoft's announcement, has said that it will attempt to provide current Lumia owners with many of the benefits that the Windows Phone 8 software upgrade, especially a redesigned start screen that allows users to change the size of the "live tiles" that are central to the Windows Phone experience.

This is not hugely reassuring for anyone considering the purchase of a Lumia handset today.

But perhaps Nokia was secretly briefed on this hammer blow to its prospects, and was behind the recent announcement from the company that its future quarterly forecasts were difficult to predict.

What would could be worse is if Microsoft delays the delivery of its Windows Phone 8 platform, something that is entirely possible, and leaves Nokia struggling to convince customers that its Lumia smartphones do have a future.

If this wasn't enough, a Nomura Securities analyst issued a note speculating that Microsoft was developing its own Windows Phone handset and could already be working with a contract manufacturer to build a device.

While this idea has been suggested before, the release of its own tablet device gives added credence that it might now want to enter the smartphone business directly.

However, the company's track record with hardware is poor, as seen with its Kin handset that was launched in 2010 and then withdrawn two months later.

In summary, I think this is a calamitous mess that Nokia didn't need at this stage in a traumatic transition.--Paul