A milestone will be reached at the end of the week when Nokia’s Devices and Services business officially becomes a part of Microsoft. The date for the closing was announced on the Official Microsoft Blog in a post by Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president for legal and corporate.
The deal is being completed with tweaks that most commentators call minor: Microsoft was named manager of the Nokia Web domain and social media sites for a year; twenty-one employees in China who were originally to stay with Nokia will now transfer to Microsoft, and the company will not acquire Nokia’s Korean manufacturing facility as stipulated by the original agreement.
Sharp commentators pick up interesting subtleties in even the most innocuous comments, though. Computerworld’s Preston Gralla pointed to wording of the Microsoft blog post that said Microsoft “look[s] forward to introducing the next billion customers to Microsoft services via Nokia mobile phones.”
The nuance that Gralla picked up tells a lot, if it indeed is true. Instead of saying that the vehicle of introduction to the Microsoft services is Windows Phone, he says it is Nokia devices and, by extension, Android. That’s a big deal:
You can be sure that was no accident. Microsoft has finally recognized that its future isn't in Windows, or Windows Phone for that matter, but in services, such as Bing, OneDrive, Bing Maps, and more. That's copying the way that Google monetizes Android, and Microsoft recognizes it's the way to monetize its own mobile and other efforts.
At PCWorld, Brad Chacos hinted at the same transition, though far more vaguely. What Chacos focused on, however, is the good news – from Microsoft’s perspective, at least – that the Windows Phone operating system is thriving. The company also announced universal Windows apps, which can be used across the entire Microsoft ecosystem.
Chacos paints an upbeat picture when he called the Windows 8.1 update “vastly improved.” Cortana, he writes, is a “surprisingly useful digital assistant.” The bottom line:
Between those and the numerous other features baked into the update, Windows Phone is finally a full-fledged OS capable of taking on Android and iPhone—at least as far as the core experience is concerned. In other words, Windows Phone 8.1 finally provides a level of software polished enough to match well with Nokia's impeccable hardware designs.
Microsoft is righting its mobile ship in two ways: Moving to an applications and services model through the Android infrastructure that it is gaining on Friday, and by upgrading its own OS. Another cosmetic, but perhaps psychologically important change: Sources report that the combined entity will forgo the name Nokia Ojy in favor of Microsoft Mobile Oy.