It's been a bad 10 days for Microsoft. First it unveils an insanely complicated Windows 7 upgrade grid that's guaranteed to turn off users and give Apple a boatload of snarky marketing material for the month that its Mac OS X Snow Leopard will be available before Windows 7 ships. Then a federal judge tells the company it can't sell Microsoft Word in the United States.
And now we have the "Finnish connection," a strategic move that brings to mind Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. By partnering with Nokia to offer Microsoft Office on Nokia's Symbian OS-based smartphones, Microsoft is admitting that it can't compete with Apple on the mobile front and pounds yet another nail in the coffin of Windows Mobile. None of these events is the biggest deal in the world, but taken collectively, they point out yet again that Microsoft is standing on a very slippery slope.
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Mobile users: Bye-bye WinMo, hello Symbian
Yeah, that's what I want for Christmas: a Nokia phone running Microsoft Office. I can't think of any prospect less appealing, but that's what the "Finnish connection" is going to deliver.
In case you thought the alliance is meant to challenge Apple and the iPhone, think again. "This is really about creating a formidable challenge for RIM rather than anyone else," Nokia executive vice president Kai Oistamo said in a conference call on Wednesday. (As part of that strategy, the nominal driver of the Symbian OS, the Symbian Foundation, has set an aggressive release plan.)