Windows Nokia Phones: Microsoft Should Make the PC Connection

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Here's my mea culpa. I'm a fervent Linux supporter and much prefer its stability, ease of use, and--in the case of Ubuntu--how pretty it can look compared to anything Microsoft has accomplished with Windows.

But without discussing the whys of Microsoft's controversial stranglehold on the PC operating system market, hopefully my anti-Windows stance will lend more credence to what I am about to say: Microsoft and Nokia's announcement today that Nokia phones will adopt the Windows Phone OS might mean that data sharing between smartphones and PC networks will become a lot easier, especially in a local area network (LAN), small business setting.

Microsoft and Nokia's announcement is short on specifics and, for the most part, it just relays public relations-speak. However, this absence of detail leaves much room for speculation about how great the potential is for the marriage between the two technology giants.

The most promising possibility is how this could solve so many compatibility issues between smartphones and small networks. Think about file sharing: As a small network IT administrator, it's a headache having to install separate software for data sharing between Windows PCs and smartphones, whether Blackberries, iPhones, or Android devices.

For the user, why can't you just plug in your smartphone and share files with a group of Windows PCs like you would from any other PC? To use the Blackberry as an example, the syncing software is clunky at best. Just sharing an e-mail file attachment on your Blackberry with a PC can be amazingly difficult.

Better network compatibility would involve being able to share a printer, run Windows' sync features for automated sharing of selected folders between Nokia smartphones and PCs, and why not one day just being able to share files over a shared router between PCs and a Nokia smartphone? The features, of course, would be welcome in Nokia tablets as well, although neither company today mentioned whether Nokia's tablets would run on a Microsoft OS.

But unfortunately, in the immediate future, Windows Phone 7 alone is not about to revolutionize data sharing in PC-based LAN environments, so we have to wait and see how future versions of the OS and Nokia phone applications might one day serve data-sharing needs for small and home-based offices.

Thus far, the mobile operating system has been almost exclusively geared for the consumer. Business users hardly care about the Windows Phone 7 "People hub" feature for Facebook contact sharing, or the Zune to sync media files from a PC. Microsoft says IT administrators will like Windows Phone 7, yet the mobile OS was released without support for VPN connections and IPsec security protocols, while Microsoft Exchange Server compatibility functions are limited.

What makes me optimistic is that Nokia sells more phones than any other OEM in the world, and Microsoft Windows is installed on the vast majority of all PCs. So wouldn't it make sense for Microsoft to develop better connectivity bridges between PC networks and Windows-based smartphones, with adequate security features in its mobile OS to entice business users around the world?

Nokia is hardly a slouch, as the pioneer of smartphones as we know them today, and its upcoming Nokia N9 with an Intel processor should offer impressive power-saving and computing-performance features. Offering easy-to-use and secure data-sharing between Nokia Windows phones and PC networks would be a winning equation. Hopefully Microsoft will realize this.

Bruce covers tech trends in the United States and Europe and tweets at @brucegain.

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