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Microsoft/Nokia relationship is another option for mobile enterprises

In his latest Inside the Enterprise column, Stephen Pritchard turns his attention to Microsoft and Nokia's mobile communications marriage.

Yesterday, Nokia and Microsoft released the first product from their mobile alliance: a version of Office Communicator for Nokia Series 60 phones, such as the E72.

This might not rank as the greatest ever announcement to come from the two industry giants, but it is a significant stake in the ground.

IT PRO has covered the challenges facing Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform before, and the growth of rivals, such as the iPhone and Android.

Companies including Motorola, Samsung, HTC and most recently SonyEricsson - all previously users of Windows Mobile - have brought out Android phones.

Difficulties in building a credible touch screen device on Windows Mobile 6.5, and doubts about the release schedule for Windows Mobile 7, are just some of the reasons for the interest in Google's mobile OS.

Nokia, though, has not moved Into the Android camp, although it has its own Linux-based OS for the N900 smart phone. And despite the continued success of the BlackBerry and the growth of the iPhone, and Android, Nokia remains the world's largest mobile phone manufacture, as well as the market leader in smart phones.

The alliance, which was announced last August, makes sense for Microsoft. It gives the software giant access to Nokia's installed base of smart phones, in order to sell products such as Office Communications Server, SharePoint, Exchange, and its upcoming cloud services.

For Nokia, the deal makes the vendor a good citizen in Microsoft-based IT environments. And, as Ukko Lappalainen, Nokia's vice president of business smart phones, explained during a call with IT PRO, offering direct connections to Microsoft Infrastructure frees Nokia from the need to develop middleware its own middleware.

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