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Nokia says Windows Phone 7 features will trickle down to Symbian devices

We met Nokia and Microsoft to find out what their collaboration means for Windows Phone 7 and Nokia's current operating system, Symbian -- and why Nokia rejected Android.

Like Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder side-by-side at a piano keyboard, Nokia and Microsoft are joining together in perfect harmony. We met the two companies to discuss the collaboration, and what the news means for Windows Phone 7 and Nokia's current operating system, Symbian.

Crave sat down with Kai Öistämö, Nokia's executive vice president of umlauts corporate development, and Andrew Lees, Microsoft's president of mobile communications, at the London launch. They described how the market had shifted from battles between devices to a "war between ecosystems".

Nokia phones currently run Symbian, but that OS has struggled to keep up with Apple's iPhone iOS and Google's Android. Meanwhile Windows Phone 7 arrived late in the game, and is yet to gain any traction against its rivals.

Nokia has bought into a giant existing ecosystem by aligning itself with Microsoft. Not only will Nokia smart phones use Windows Phone 7, but Nokia will expand on to your desktop. Data from Nokia Maps will power maps in Bing on your computer, which are likely to display some kind of Nokia -- or Navteq -- branding, but the specifics are yet to be worked out.

Nokia and Microsoft don't have any new phones to show off at this stage. We asked about tablets too, but both companies refused to be drawn. They did confirm that all Nokia smart phones will be powered by Windows Phone 7, which means no love for Nokia's own MeeGo OS. At last year's MWC, we went to the launch party for MeeGo. Today, the party's over.

Öistämö confirmed that Nokia will continue to launch new devices powered by the Symbian operating system. Nokia reckons it will sell another 150 million Symbian phones, mostly in the developing world. Symbian development and updates will continue to be pushed out to existing devices, but Nokia is keen to avoid the problems of the iPhone 3G, rendered near-unusable by software updates.

Nokia also told us that features from Nokia's Windows Phone 7 smart phones would trickle down to lower-end Symbian devices. An example is Bing becoming the default search engine in all Nokia devices.

We also asked the question that many of our readers have been asking: why not Android? Nokia boss Stephen Elop doesn't believe the company can differentiate its phones from other Android phones. Microsoft reckons Nokia made the right decision because adopting Windows Phone 7 promotes competition in the phone world.

A lot of questions are yet to be answered, like whether app developers will flock to Windows Phone 7 like they did with Apple's iOS, or whether Symbian is essentially a lame duck. And most importantly, what will the phones be like?

Do you think Nokia has done the right thing? And who do you think is getting the most out of the deal? Microsoft, which expands WP7 into millions more phones? Or Nokia, which has its software problems solved? Tell us your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall.