Microsoft's partnership with beleaguered Finnish mobile manufacturer Nokia - which extends to having ex-Microsofties in positions of power at the company - will result in a custom Windows Phone platform just for Nokia, sources claim.
While as yet unconfirmed by either Nokia or Microsoft, unnamed industry sources talking to Australian tech site SmartHouse claim that an 'expanded' version of Windows Phone 7 will be demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress event next year - and will be Nokia-only.
"[It will feature] several new software upgrades, exclusive functions for Nokia phones, and software that will not be available for other manufacturers who license the OS[/i]" the unnamed sources are said to have claimed.
If true, it's a bold move on Microsoft's part. While its support of Nokia makes sense - aside from solidarity between ex- and current Microsoft employees, having a company which is famed for developing its own in-house mobile platforms move to Windows Phone is a big win - a Nokia-exclusive Windows Phone 7 platform could cause dissent in the ranks.
Currently, all Windows Phone licensees are offered the same base platform - and one of the biggest selling points of Windows Phone 7 over rival platforms such as Google's Android is the relative lack of customisation available to carriers and manufacturers. While it means that nobody can do anything too clever, it gives Microsoft a monolithic platform much like Apple's iOS - making updates easier to roll out and keeping the playing field level.
By releasing a custom Nokia version of Windows Phone, however, Microsoft would be immediately fragmenting the market: depending on what the 'exclusive functions' offer, future apps may only be available for Nokia-manufactured handsets - leaving the company's current customers out in the cold.
With Nokia's first Windows Phone handset expected to be released before the end of the year, we shouldn't have long to wait to see if the rumour is true.