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Nokia and Microsoft cosy up in small Office space

Best of enemies go gooey with mutual admiration

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Two of the losers in the smartphone wars are cuddling up. Historic enemies Microsoft and Nokia today announced a wide ranging partnership covering mobile software, services, and eventually GUIs.

Or as the execs put it today, as they exchanged dopey-eyed looks, the pair will "jointly design a range of new user experiences".

The pair have been slugging it out for years, but have seen more nimble and attractive products from rivals steal the mindshare and (more importantly), scoop up the profits. Apple and RIM pocketed 58 per cent of the profits in the market with just 5 per cent market share.

Both giants will continue to invest in their respective system software - Symbian OS and Windows Mobile - but both hinted they would share a lot of future development too - beginning with native Symbian versions of Microsoft Office binaries including One Note, and extending to web services such as SharePoint. Office should arrive next year.

E-Series users will see the results of the partnership first, and eventually it will filter down into the "Symbian portfolio". That's where the volumes will be, if not the profits.

So, does a partnership makes sense?

In the 'plus' column, it removes several areas where both Nokia and Microsoft are competing for fourth place.

On the downside, they're partnering in areas where they bring all the finesse and expertise of a ballroom dancer wearing boots with the shoelaces tied together.

Name some web services worse than Ovi, or "mobile user experiences" more frustrating than Windows Mobile, S60 or Nokia's email clients (old or new). These are areas where Google and Apple are streaking ahead.

You have to marvel, though. Almost ten years ago Microsoft couldn't bring itself to mention Nokia's key strategic software partner, Symbian, by name - redacting it from transcripts.

In 1998 and 1999, Gates went bonkers at Symbian in some leaked memos, and in 2002 admitted Microsoft was being spanked by Nokia. It's amazing what being spanked by some upstarts can do.®

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