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Spanish whispers on Microsoft and Nokia

From the bars of Barcelona ...

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MWC 2011 Once the condition of offspring has been established, and the second round is on the table, conversation in Barcelona quickly turns to what everyone expects of Nokia's deal with Redmond.

And the MWC attendees are surprisingly positive, once the sense of betrayal has been exorcised. The feeling among them is that Nokia has chosen the lesser of necessary evils, and so the discussion turns to how much Nokia is going to spend showing support for its legacy platforms, and what it is going to do on tablets, before the enthusiastic analysis of what went so badly wrong to put the Finns into this impossible position.

On that there are enough theories to full many a night's drinking, but Nokia's apparent lack of tablet strategy is more immediately concerning, along with when we're going to see the first Nokia handset running Windows, and which version of Windows Phone it will run.

The consensus is that Nokia will have to get a Windows handset out this year, alongside some sort of MeeGo device that the company is obliged to launch as a toy to mollify the hackers and geeks. What version of Windows will bless a Nokia handset is less clear; lots of people noticed Steven Elop's reluctance to attach a version number when talking about Microsoft platforms, and there's no shortage of speculation on why that might be.

There are dissenting voices, but most of the bar-fly pundits reckon Nokia won't launch with the existing Windows Phone version, but equally can't wait for version 8. They believe an intermediate instance will probably be launched late in the summer, and will include a few features the competition doesn't have – though as those competitors are also Microsoft licensees, any innovation lead won't last long.

On the tablet question, the thought is that Microsoft will be able to convince Nokia to go with full Windows. Nokia has form here, having used Windows on its not-net-book-but-sure-looks-like-one product. Nokia's backing could be a significant boost for Windows as a tablet platform, especially when Microsoft's traditional allies are less loyal these days.

And so, inevitably, the conversation moves on to tablets and how they're being used, and which bits of hardware have caught the eye, and, more importantly, who's going to pay for the third round. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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