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Tune in for Nokia's Windows phones (live blog)

The beleaguered handset maker will announce its first Windows Phone devices as part of a partnership it crafted with Microsoft in February.

LONDON - Nokia's big comeback could start this week as the beleaguered cell phone maker is set to introduce its first smartphones based on Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system.

CNET's concept art of the 'Sea Ray' Nokia-made Windows Phone.
CNET's concept art of the 'Sea Ray' Nokia-made Windows Phone. Josh Long/CNET

On Wednesday, the Finnish cell phone maker will kick off its Nokia World Event here in London where CEO Stephen Elop is expected to provide an update on the company's progress in its close strategic relationship with Microsoft, as well as take the wraps off the first smartphones that will use Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 OS.

The event is make-or-break for Nokia, which has lost significant market share over the past two years as Apple's iPhone and a slew of devices using the Google Android operating system have gobbled up new wireless subscribers all over the world. In addition, the new Nokia phones will be the first products the company has introduced as a part of its relationship with Microsoft. In February Nokia announced a partnership with Microsoft and said it would ditch its old Symbian smartphone operating system and replace it with Microsoft's Windows Phone software.

To get all the latest news as it happens from London, check out CNET's live blog. Stephen Shankland and I will be teaming up with ZDNet bloggers Mary Jo Foley and Zack Whittaker to live-blog the event using CoverItLive. The event kicks off bright and early Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. BST (1 a.m. PT). We'll get things started at around 8:45 a.m. BST (12:45 a.m. PT). Bookmark this page and join us Wednesday, or check back throughout the morning with updated stories and pictures of the newly announced devices.

The strategy is a huge gamble for Nokia, which has seen smartphone sales stall as it has retrenched. The success of the new Windows Phone smartphones is key to Nokia's turnaround and survival. And now after months of anticipation, the day has finally arrived when Nokia will show off the fruits of its new strategy.

So far, Nokia hasn't provided many details about the new devices or how and where it will launch the new phones. On a quarterly earnings conference call last week, executives said it will launch the devices in a few select markets in the first quarter of 2012 and then expand to more markets later in the year.

Even though Nokia hasn't offered details yet of the device, there have been leaks and rumors. This summer, a video hit the Internet showing Nokia's CEO demonstrating a Windows Phone codenamed SeaRay. The prototype in the video looked similar to Nokia's N9, which runs the Nokia developed MeeGo software.

The new SeaRay phone, which some say will be called N800, will run Microsoft's latest version of its OS Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. None of the specs for the phone have been confirmed by Nokia, but several blogs speculate it will ship with a 1.4Ghz processor, 3.7inch AMOLED screen and come with 16GB of storage. It's also expected to have an 8 megapixel camera.

As the date of the launch approaches, there's also talk that Nokia will introduce not just one new phone, but at least one other new device. Pocketnow.com says it expects a budget-friendly phone, called the Sabre, which is expected to have 8GB of storage and a 5 megapixel camera.