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Nokia boss promises cheaper Windows Phone 7 handsets 'very quickly'

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop says prices will come down quickly for Windows Phone 7 handsets, making Nokia's first WP7 smart phones affordable to a wider range of people.

Think Windows Phone 7 smart phones are too pricey? So does Nokia CEO Stephen Elop. The good news is Microsoft has convinced him that prices will come down quickly in the months ahead, which is one of the reasons Nokia opted to sign a deal with the company to make WP7 handsets.

Elop tells Reuters a key negotiation in the deal was the question of whether Windows Phone devices could reach "a very low price point", ensuring Nokia would be able to replace its more affordable Symbian handsets with Microsoft-powered ones.

"We have become convinced that we can do that very quickly," says Elop, with the article claiming that Microsoft will soon start allowing WP7 handset makers to use cheaper chipsets in order to reduce the basic price of the devices. In the past, Microsoft's rules on what hardware can be used have been pretty strict.

As part of the interview, Elop also told Reuters he has now sold all his Microsoft shares and bought 150,000 Nokia shares instead. He had been criticised for hanging on to his shares in his previous company while not piling into Nokia as soon as he got the new job.

But back to those cheaper Windows Phone 7 handsets. So far, Nokia has kept its cards close to its chest on when we can expect to see its first WP7 devices. Images of prototypes leaked out last week, but revealed little other than the WP7 homescreens look pretty when Photoshopped on to colourful Nokia fusillages.

There has been speculation that Nokia is holding its fire until the release of a major update to the Windows Phone OS this autumn, codenamed Mango. It's expected to be known as Windows Phone 7.5 when it's released, and may be one of the reasons Elop avoided saying "Windows Phone 7" last week at Mobile World Congress, in favour of a more generic "Windows Phone".

In separate news, Nokia is looking to get its developer community fired up about making Windows Phone apps by promising them "one free Nokia WP7 device, as soon as it becomes available," Slashgear reports. In the meantime, they'll get a free Nokia E7 to play with.