Microsoft and Nokia--still significant rivals in the cell phone business--said Wednesday that they are deepening their work together.
As first reported by CNET News on Tuesday, the partnership means that a mobile version of Office will show up on Nokia cell phones. In the past, the only phones with mobile versions of Office have been those running Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system.
The two companies said they will start to work immediately to bring Office Mobile as well as Microsoft's communications and device management software to Nokia's devices based on the Symbian operating system. Although they hope to eventually get the software running on a range of devices, the partnership will start with Nokia's business-oriented E-series of phones.
Nokia and Microsoft are both trying to improve their mobile position amid greater competition from the likes of Apple and Google.
Executives from both companies are about to discuss the deal on a conference call which will be covered live here.
8:11 a.m. PT
"Work is already under way," Microsoft's Stephen Elop said, adding that the companies expect a mobile version of Microsoft's Communicator product will be available for Symbian next year.
"We're only starting to scratch the surface," said Nokia Devices executive vice president Kai Oistamo. "This is much more than putting Microsoft Office on Nokia smartphones." The companies are also working on bringing access to SharePoint and other of Microsoft's tools to Symbian phones.
Nokia is also renewing its license to Microsoft's ActiveSync technology as part of the deal.
Of course Nokia and Microsoft do compete in some areas and will continue to do so, Elop said. Microsoft is committed to Windows Mobile, Elop said, while Oistamo said that Nokia remains committed to Symbian (despite some recent reports to the contrary).
We both believe strongly in our respective strategies but we also believe in this partnership, Elop said. "One size does not fit all," he added.
On to the Q&A portion. The first question is about Apple, naturally.
Oistamo said that the deal is not really about the iPhone.
"This is really about creating a formidable challenge for RIM rather than anyone else," Oistamo said, referring to BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.
The version of Microsoft Office and other Microsoft software for Symbian will be tailored to those that make sense on their phones, Elop said. Oistamo said that the Microsoft software shouldn't require more expensive hardware than Nokia was already planning on bringing to market.
Will Nokia make Windows Mobile phones? "There are no such plans," Oistamo said.
Not sure if its just me or everyone on the phone call. But my line just went silent.
Back now. Not very impressive to have a conference call drop from two leaders in telephony.
"Should have been using a Nokia cell phone," Elop recovered nicely.
Questioner asks why this shouldn't be seen as a sign Windows Mobile won't dominate the smartphone market. "There will continue to be competition around Windows Mobile," Elop said. "By no means is it an acknowledgment of what you described."
Elop clarifies that this deal relates to full mobile versions of Office--not Microsoft's browser-based Web applications. And, it will include OneNote (in case anyone was wondering).
I'm talking with some executives in a few minutes. If anyone has questions that didn't get answered, shoot them my way. Ina (dot) Fried (at) CNET (dot) com.