Today, Microsoft and Nokia announced a global alliance in which the two companies will begin collaborating immediately on enterprise-class mobile productivity solutions. The alliance will see, among other things, the first-ever mobile version of Microsoft Office on a non-Microsoft smart phone platform.

"With more than 200 million smartphone customers globally, Nokia is the world's largest smartphone manufacturer and a natural partner for us," said Microsoft President Stephen Elop. "Today's announcement will enable us to expand Microsoft Office Mobile to Nokia smartphone owners worldwide and allow them to collaborate on Office documents from anywhere, as part of our strategy to provide the best productivity experience across the PC, phone, and browser."

Nokia is among the many Microsoft mobile partners already shipping Exchange ActiveSync technologies on its devices, letting customers interact seamlessly with the de-facto corporate email standard, Microsoft Exchange Server. But this new alliance will deeply broaden the relationship between the two companies. Starting next year, Nokia will begin shipping Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile on its smart phones, followed by mobile versions of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote, Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile for instant messaging (IM) and presence functionality, mobile access to Microsoft SharePoint Server portals, and Microsoft System Center-based enterprise device management.

While both companies expressed excitement about the partnership, they also both remain committed to their respective mobile platforms and say they will continue to compete in some markets. "Microsoft remains deeply committed to Windows Mobile," Mr. Elop said during the announcement, "and we're excited about Windows Mobile 6.5 and the new version of Office Mobile that will ship next year. Nokia is equally committed to Symbian \[its smart phone platform\]."

The partnership will reach a huge number of users. Nokia is the number-one smart phone maker worldwide, although its products barely register in the United States. Nokia ships over 45 percent of all smart phones worldwide, and Elop noted that this partnership will result in the availability of Mobile Office to more than 200 million existing Nokia smart phone users.