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Nokia ready to make Windows Phone 7 smart phones?

Nokia is talking to Microsoft about bringing Windows Phone 7 to Nokia hardware, says the rumour on the street. But could two tech loners really make a love match?

"Two hens can't make an eagle" is the pithy Russian saying that perfectly illustrates our single raised eyebrow at hearing that Nokia may be in talks with Microsoft to release a phone running Windows Phone 7.

It's the kind of doubtful gossip we'd usually blush to repeat, but this rumour comes straight from legendary blog mobile-review.com, so we're taking it more seriously than we otherwise might. The site's author is well known for snagging Nokia news in the crooks and crannies of the Finnish-Russian border. And this isn't the first time we've had a whiff of a Nokia/Windows love child.

After being abandoned by Samsung and Sony Ericsson this year, Nokia is left as the only company flying the flag for its popular but dated Symbian operating system. The company insists the future is MeeGo, the software it's working on with Intel, and told us "no comment" to the Windows rumours.

There's no doubt Nokia is stuffed with talented software developers, but we've been told by insiders that things move at a snail's pace within the Nordic monster, and there isn't always the flexibility for good ideas to take flight. So could Stephen Elop, the company's new outsider CEO -- who's ex-Microsoft -- be thinking the unthinkable about putting another company's OS on its hardware?

Unlike other manufacturers, Nokia has never been keen on letting outsiders provide the brains for its phones. It's stayed away from Android, for example, despite Google's software taking the world by storm on phones from LG, Motorola, HTC and Samsung, among others.

Also, Microsoft has been very clear that it won't let phone makers add or remove much on Windows Phone 7. That's why it's hard to tell one WinPho 7 phone from another, except for a few hardware tweaks within strict limits, and maybe a pre-installed app or two.

So you'd be hard-pressed to find two more unwilling partners to take a spin on the smart-phone dancefloor than Nokia and Microsoft. But both do have something to offer the other. Nokia's hardware is top-notch, with the Nokia N8 scoring widespread praise for its awesome camera and sleek metal case. Meanwhile, Windows Phone is a fresh OS that's won high praise for its simplicity, although it's failed to set the world on fire in terms of sales.

With Nokia desperate to stop the slide of its smart-phone reputation, and Microsoft scrabbling to climb up the bottom rung of an already crowded sector, maybe it's just possible these two underdogs could combine forces to become one normal dog.

What's next? Lions and lambs chilling together? Penguins giving up tuxedos to go casual? Let us know in the comments whether you support this unholy alliance.