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Nokia has the ability to customize WP7 but will they?

As the dust begins to settle on the Nokia/Microsoft partnership announcement, we're learning that Nokia may have more latitude with Windows Phone 7 than other WP7 partners. Nokia is of the opinion that their agreement with Microsoft will allow them to make better use of Windows Phone 7 than other manufacturers. Stephen Elop, Nokia's CEO stated,

“We have the ability to do customizations and extensions to the software environment that are unique and therefore differentiate. It’s very important to understand this is not a standard OEM agreement. Microsoft is placing a big bet on us."

Elop was quick to follow up that while Nokia had the ability change things, he felt it would be the worst possible option.

“We have the ability to do all of that. But that could be the worst possible thing we do. We are trying to build commonality in terms of user experience. We have tremendous capacity to differentiate within the Windows Phone ecosystem because of our unique relationship with Microsoft. However, you have to be careful of how you use capabilities like that."

Additionally, Elop added,

"We will resist the temptation to customize simply for the sake of customizing."

With devices not expected until 2012, we can hope that any modifications/customizations will be well thought out and that the momentum Microsoft has built with Windows Phone 7 isn't jeopardized by Nokia giving into such temptations.

In a seperate interview with All Things Digital, Elop describes the relationship with Microsoft as one of balance with deliberate dependence in both directions. Elop felt that both Microsoft and Nokia would work to offer an overall successful ecosystem.

The new relationship between Nokia and Microsoft has a strong potential for success and puts a little pep into Windows Phone 7 development.  Still, one has wonder if Nokia's freedom to customize is a good thing?  Is Microsoft headed down the same path with WP7 as we saw with Windows Mobile in that you eventually have multiple variations of the same system. Variations that often frustrated developers.

Hopefully not.

Source: Pocket-Lint and All Things Digital

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

  • Jimminy Crickets!!!! When do the fracking h/w mfrs get it?? Differentiate w/ your HARDWARE, leave the SOFTWARE to the users & OS mfrs to differentiate for their OWN needs.Crap! lol
  • This could be a great opportunity for Microsoft and Nokia and as a result great for us. However, Nokias special allowance to customize the os may make other hardware companies (HTC, Samsung, LG, etc) jealous. As a result, they may decide to discontinue using WP7 as an os on their hardware. Also on the short term, it may seem great to see special features on Nokias but in the long term will fragment the os and make it difficult to update and difficult for developers to create.Nokia is a good manufacturer and can contribute a lot to the os but the os must remain the same for all manufacturers. Imagine Windows 7 altered outside the boundaries that Microsoft set for each pc manufacturer. It would make it difficult for software developers to create software for your pc. Same goes for our phones.Best of luck to both Nokia and Microsoft but be careful.
  • I don't think so, if the other OEMs see sales keep going they could try to make the same sorta deals, the thing is do they have something to share that MS can use like Nokia has which is what made this whole deal possible really.Besides I don't think Nokia will go crazy with UI changes, no real need to, they'll probably do some tweaks, maybe around the style of the tiles and integrate more with the hubs compared to the other OEMs.
  • It's called competition. Nokia, being the largest manufacturer of mobile phones and commiting to WP7 exclusively, has earned the right to add their bit of uniqueness to WP7 on their own devices. Just like each OEM has already added some customization for; swappable SD cards, high performance speakers and slide out keyboards, Nokia will enhance what they need to in order to make their devices stand out. And the likes of HTC, Samsung, LG, Dell and Asus will need to innovate or step aside. This is not about being nice, it's about good business and profitability. No manufacturer will turn away from an opportunity to make money. BTW, don't be surprised though if you see a sort of WP Lite, for low and mid-priced devices by 2012-13. Same look and feel, but maybe less data centric for the economy minded user.
  • The funny thing is, when I first saw Metro, I instantly thought how it combined elements of the Nokia N900 UI (live widgets and panaramic desktops) with elements of the Nokia N97 UI (widgets as tiles, portrait being the preferred interface). Obviously, Metro shares much of its DNA with the Zune HD UI, but still it's interesting how things have kinda come back around.Regarding Nokia's option to customize more heavily, I'm cautiously curious here. Elop is cognizant of the fact that they don't need to make this their OS per se. Honestly, I don't know that I want Nokia's influence other than their services integrated into MS' to make WP7 all the more attractive worldwide. I just want sexy Nokia hardware with WP7. It think that's what Elop wants as well. So perhaps we'll see camera lens covers that start the camera app when opened, dual mics, and built-in video editors on Nokia's WP7 phones.And MS' other OEMs must be a bit miffed right now. Thing is, Nokia's involvement automatically means a higher level of success for WP7, so they'd be silly to ignore the platform. At the same time, they'll need to bring their A-game to compete. Who wins? Us. And Microsoft.
  • Exactly, it's not like this Nokia deal locks out the others OEMs, sure Nokia might have more access but if it works out good for them, and sales are strong then the rest will have to step up and maybe even make the same sorta deal if they can? We really don't know what UI realted changes they'll even do though, maybe MS will push those out to others as well on their own?
  • I say customize the HELL out of it. As long as there is a way to get back to the default plain tiles. Choice is good!
  • If they invest in the customizing they are not going to invest in you being able to undo what they paid to do. HTC created this debacle w/ their TouchFlo & Sense on WM platform. Could not succesfully undo it, unless you cooked it out of ROM.
  • I certainly get why manufacturers would want to customize their phones because they essentially take Android and add their own personal branded experience to it. It's like having your own OS but the beauty is that its still compatible with all of the apps and services users of Android would expect from the stock build.However, on an operating system that was designed as strictly tampering-free to give all users feature parity, Nokia's ability to modify the OS is a little worrying. One can only hope that any changes Nokia would make (luckily they're not planning to) would still be separated from the stock OS so at least the build could be updated.