Rumour: Nokia planning Windows Phone 7 devices

Finnish phone giant Nokia is rumoured to be hedging its bets against a failure of its Symbian^3 mobile platform, discussing the possibility of a partnership with Microsoft on Nokia-branded Windows Phone 7 handsets.

That's the rumour that has come out of an opinion piece on Russian-language site Mobile-Review, where writer Eldar Murtazin claims that Nokia is in direct talks with Microsoft about the possibility of becoming a Windows Phone licensee - a major departure for the Finnish company, which has traditionally shied away from the use of third-party software on its devices.

The rumour, which has not yet been verified by Nokia or Microsoft, was first picked up in the English-speaking press by UnwiredView - which cites Murtazin's "pedigree and former hits" as near-proof of the veracity of his claims.

If true, it's a bold move on Nokia's part: having previously bet heavily on its Maemo platform for the smartphone market, which it would later combine with Intel's Moblin to form the MeeGo project, and having only just launched a smartphone running the latest version of its Symbian platform, the launch of devices based on Microsoft's rival Windows Phone 7 platform could be seen by many in the market as a sign of defeat.

Nokia has long struggled to compete in the smartphone arena: despite devices such as the N900 and Symbian^3-based N8, the company's main expertise is in Symbian-powered budget devices and 'featurephones' - and as the world shows an increasingly insatiable demand for iOS and Android-based smartphones, it's becoming clear that Nokia needs to step up its game if it wants to compete.

It's questionable whether a deal with Microsoft is in the company's best interest, however. With the company's previous expertise in Linux-based mobile platforms, the launch of Android-powered smartphones would seem a far more obvious move - but clearly there's something in Windows Phone 7 that has drawn Nokia's attention.

With neither Nokia nor Microsoft commenting on the rumour, only time will tell if we'll be seeing Nokia Windows Phone 7 models at CES next year.