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Fri, Aug 14, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Microsoft Office coming to Nokia smartphones

BUILDING LINKS The two firms stressed they remain committed to their own mobile operating systems, but said there are other areas for collaboration

AFP , WASHINGTON

Microsoft and Nokia, in a challenge to Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, announced on Wednesday that Microsoft Office software would be available on smartphones made by the Finnish company.

The software and mobile phone giants said that from next year, Nokia would include Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile on its smartphones, followed by other Office applications.

“This agreement represents an important milestone for both companies and the industry,” Stephen Elop, the president of Microsoft Business Division, said in a conference call with reporters.

“It’s the first time Microsoft will develop rich Office Mobile applications for another smartphone platform,” he said, adding that the two firms have identified several other areas for future collaboration.

“Today’s announcement will enable us to expand Microsoft Office Mobile to Nokia smartphone owners worldwide and allow them to collaborate on Office documents from anywhere,” Elop said.

The companies said the deal will allow Nokia smartphone users to view, edit, create and share Office documents and use such popular Microsoft programs as Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote.

“Together with Microsoft, we will develop new and innovative user experiences for employees of small and large businesses alike,” said Kai Oistamo, Nokia’s executive vice president for devices.

Microsoft and Nokia both stressed their commitment to their rival mobile telephone operating systems, Windows Mobile and Symbian.

“Nokia and Microsoft do compete in some areas and we will continue to do so,” Elop said. “At Microsoft we remain deeply committed to Windows Mobile.”

Oistamo emphasized his company’s commitment to Symbian and said Microsoft’s productivity applications will add “tremendous value to Symbian.”

Asked whether the alliance was intended to counter the growing popularity of Apple’s iPhone, Oistamo said it was aimed more at the BlackBerry, whose e-mail capability is a favorite of office workers worldwide.

“It is really about creating a formidable challenge for RIM rather than anybody else,” he said.

Nokia is the world’s leading manufacturer of mobile phones and holds a 45 percent share of the smartphone market, the latest figures from research firm Gartner show.

However, it has been facing increased competition in the smartphone business from the iPhone and BlackBerry.

Microsoft also faces competition in the mobile phone operating system sector from Google’s open-source Android software and free Web-based programs.

Gartner analyst Nick Jones described the move as a “tacit admission from Microsoft that Windows Mobile hasn’t made the grade.”

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