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Microsoft Corp. and Nokia Corp. on Wednesday said they would team up for software aimed at smartphones. Initially, Microsoft will develop productivity Office-like applications for Symbian-based mobile phones for Nokia that directly compete against Microsoft Windows-based cell phones. This is the first time that either company has embarked on an alliance of this scope and nature.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies 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. These solutions will be available for a broad range of Nokia smartphones starting with the company’s business-optimized E-series range. The two companies will also market these solutions to businesses, carriers and individuals.

“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,” said Stephen Elop, the president of Microsoft’s business division.

This announcement builds on the existing work Nokia is doing by optimizing access to e-mail and other personal information with Exchange ActiveSync. Next year, Nokia intends to start shipping Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile on its smartphones, followed by other Office applications and related software and services in the future. These 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.

In the light of the rising popularity of smartphones in general as well as those based on alternative platforms, such as Apple Mac OS, Google Android, Linux or RIM Blackberry, in particular, both Microsoft and Nokia need to ensure that their software and devices continue to command huge chunks of the market. As a result, Microsoft is willing to develop software for competing operating system, whereas Nokia, which, in fact, has been withdrawing from software development for a while, is willing to install software created by one of its most important rivals onto its devices (which, among other things, simplifies migration from Symbian to Windows Mobile).

“Together with Microsoft, we will develop new and innovative user experiences for employees of small and large businesses alike, ensuring Nokia’s smartphones are an integral part of the office and home-office environment, and addressing the significant opportunity in mobile enterprise productivity,” said Kai Öistämö, Nokia’s executive vice president for devices.

Tags: Microsoft, Nokia, Windows


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