It has been one of the biggest mobile technology stories of the year so far, but only today did it finally become official, as Microsoft and Nokia have got together and signed their definitive partnership agreement.
The two companies made their plans to join forces public back on the 11th February, with Nokia agreeing to use Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system as its primary smartphone software platform. Nokia’s existing suite of Ovi apps including Maps would be used on this new platform too.
The announcement has kept Microsoft and Nokia in the limelight ever since, with a fairly even split between those excited about the move and those who think it smacks of desperation. The press release notifying us of the agreement is very positive, using phrases such as ‘a partnership that will result in a new global mobile ecosystem’ and quoting Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop as saying ‘at the highest level, we have entered into a win-win partnership’.
The agreement outlines how the relationship will be structured, saying that in addition to the hardware Nokia will provide ‘mapping, navigation and certain location-based services’ while building ‘innovation on top of the Windows Phone platform in areas such as imaging’. Microsoft will bring Bing to the party along with advertising, gaming, search and social media. We can also expect the launch of a new Nokia branded app store built around Windows Marketplace, and it’ll contain WP7 apps as well as Symbian and S40 software too.
A recent leak has provided some tentative specs of the first devices, which have been rumoured to appear in 2012, but in a Nokia video released today, their VP of Microsoft Alliance says that although 2012 is still the official word, there is considerable pressure to get the phones on sale this year instead.
In the same video, it’s confirmed that existing Nokia developers will be given free registration to become Windows Phone developers too, showing how keen Nokia and Microsoft are to increase the amount of applications available for WP7 as soon as possible.
A Nokia Conversations blog post says this ten-week period of ‘intense collaboration’ has resulted in the agreement being finalised faster than they imagined, something we all hope continues when it comes to the handsets this partnership will eventually bare.