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Thoughts on Nokia + Microsoft

I believe this is the biggest mobile technology news since announcement of Apple iPhone back in 2007. And to be honest, I am all excited as one Apple fanboy would have, on such big news!


There are reasons why I am so much excited, but first let me start with the fact that many developers showing concern that Nokia made a mistake for selecting Microsoft Windows Phone 7 as it’s primary mobile OS.

I have been reading lots of news, reviews, analysis and comments around this partnership, positive and negative. I gone through official Forum Nokia’s blog post "Letter to Developers about Today’s News" and in comments I see many developers not so happy.

I would like share some of the facts and personal experience about Symbian OS.

Symbian for End-Users

This is the base fact that everyone, including Nokia also admits that Symbian’s UX is ugly. I have been using Nokia smartphones since 2004, and my first one was second-hand Nokia 7650, and I have witnessed that Symbian was doing great in terms of UI until iPhone. After that, I haven’t heard anyone praising Symbian’s UI.

Symbian for touch enabled devices, proved to be complete nightmare for Nokia. Since it’s introduction to date, they are still trying to tweak it to work better for touch input, sadly without any luck.

Honestly, tell me any 10 great looking native Symbian applications, which provide smooth, beautiful, and animated user experience. Oh, I know one, Gravity and my big applause to the guys who did it. Other than this, I have not seen any Symbian application which impressed me with such great UX compared to iPhone, Android or WP7 apps.

Other than this, I was quite disappointed from Nokia from the end-users’ perspective, as they’ve been selling Symbian devices by showing cool animated UI transitions, but in reality, the actual device, when rotated from portrait orientation, taking more than 7 seconds to show up the UI in landscape (personal experience). Yes, I’m talking about Nokia N97 and other Symbian 5th Edition devices. Lets take a look at this video.

Cool, isn’t it. But if anyone who have used one of these devices must know what I’m talking about.

All this Symbian ^3 hype is waste of money and resources. I have a Nokia N8, and I was not able to compose new or reply to an email until I upgraded to firmware PR1.1, which was released few days ago after months of delay, using my primary account of Mail for Exchange (I use Google Apps). And there were also many other users who were have same issue.

I was making jokes on this”¦ "Nokia – Connecting People NOT", and imagine Borat saying it, you’re gonna laugh "automagically" :D

Nokia N8 is really a fast device as compared to Nokia 5800XM I own. But the UI still lacks all the richness, smooth transitions, and usability I find on iPhone, somewhat on Android and now on WP7 devices. Even Nokia wasn’t able to deliver what they showed in an imaginative video demoed back in 2007. Lets take a look, and pay close attention to animations and transitions.

Symbian was the main reason of Nokia’s failing all this time. They have tried to tweak its UI to make it work on touch enabled devices, but unfortunately it didn’t worked out until now.

Last thing to add here is, Nokia’s official end-user support forums are filled with so many complaints, most of them are related to Symbian OS.

Symbian for Developers

I started learning Symbian back in 2006. My aim was to develop a compiler, which would allow Adobe Flash Lite developers to easily package and distribute their games and application on Symbian platform. I successfully delivered SWF2Go in March 2007 after 8 months of R’nD, and it’s been quite a success so far.

During my journey on Symbian OS, I learned how hard and time consuming it is to develop. Setting up it’s SDKs was quite big task for anyone new to Symbian, but who have worked on other mobile platforms. Other than my work on SWF2Go, I never developed any native Symbian C++ application.

Just in 2010, Nokia’s investments in Qt started to show up. Even though Qt it easy and fun to develop with and its been here for so long and already gone through embedded platforms, but still not ready for real mobile applications. When developer needs to do some real work, he ends up with same old dirty Symbian C++.

Qt Mobility 1.0 is released but it has some quirks. For example, there’s no native Qt APIs of dealing with device orientation. The new Qt Creator project wizard now adds that dirty Symbian C++ code for you.

Nokia could have at least replaced the UI shell of the Symbian ^3 using Qt with all it’s cool transitions and effects. Like HTC replaced Windows Mobile’s UI (almost same as Symbian) with HTC Sense UX. And they actually did a pretty good job on that.

So, Symbian is an outdated legacy OS, which have completed its life long ago. Its making Nokia, developers and the whole ecosystem around it completely slow.

Now stop being angry and join, celebrate with me ;)

Why I Am So Excited?

Microsoft really knows software. They also make mistakes, like everyone does, but they are pretty good. For example .Net, Xbox, Windows 7, Silverlight.

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 is developed from experiences of Windows Mobile. It is targeted specifically for next generation hardware and touch input. It is user friendly, stable and it works. Go checkout some cool reviews to find out for yourself.

Microsoft is the king of developer tools, specifically Visual Studio 2010. If you have never used it before, this tool will teach you, help you and make you expert within weeks. It’s code editing features are one of the best available today.

With tons of online resources already available, so you will never get stuck with any issue. There’s a vibrant developer community as well, from where we can learn more and share back expertise.

Microsoft offers a complete set of tools for development of Windows Phone 7 games and applications. And best thing about them is, all of these tools including VS2010, Expression Blend and XNA Game Studio are completely free. Installation experience is really smooth as well.

Once you are aboard, you’re gonna love it. You can take my word on that ;)

I also found some users and developers asking Nokia, why they didn’t selected Android? Well, other than what Mr. Elop already said about it, I would like to add, haven’t you guys already seen enough Android devices?

Everyone is making them, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG just to name a few. Now even those Chinese companies also started making them in masses. You will be getting a lot of them in coming days.

Don’t you guys want to see something new, something different, a competition, using new technology, developing for it, innovating with it, having a choice? I mean come on”¦ Guys!

Nokia + Microsoft = A Wining Combination

I believe that this partnership is a great opportunity for developers on Nokia platform to get back into fast lane, and rapidly develop and compete against other platforms. Provide best of the best games, applications and user experiences to the end-users. A winning combination for everyone.

/// chall3ng3r //


  1. Very true thought Faisal,
    If Nokia was gonna do anything with Symbian it should have proved it with Symbian 3. All they did from S60 5th ed( early 2008 ) until Symbian 3 (late 2010) was bring Multi touch and capacitive display.. They failed to improve or innovate / worst even copy..
    After such a 3 yr history and still rambling that next devices would be great is silly. Stephen Elop didn’t kill Symbian, it was Nokia’s previous leaders who didnt get anything correct in the last 2-3 yrs.. Elop is only trying to correct the disaster.. After, bringing the same boring UI with same bugs in Symbian 3, Nokia shouldnt talk about it anymore..

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Manikantan K, Faisal Iqbal. Faisal Iqbal said: blog: Thoughts on Nokia + Microsoft: I believe this is the biggest mobile technology news since announcement of … http://bit.ly/hETOqb […]

  3. Completely agree with Faisal Bro and Mani! Hoping for the best :)

    Best Regards,
    Sajid Ali Anjum

  4. I’m agree with your point of view, I hope also that Adobe give us the opportunity to deliver AIR content on WP7, if they will do it, AIR I think will become the first technology for deliver a 60% of contents on mobile ecosystem.
    I really hope so, but for now I’m so curious to see what will happen in Barcelona during MWC.

    Faisal, great job with this post mate ;-)

  5. Paulo Mendonça says:

    Great thoughts Faisal, I totally agree with you… I’ve been struggling with Qt + Symbian development for some time now and, despite WP7 not going to have Qt support (at least that’s what they told us so far) I’m still very excited to start coding games and apps using state-of-the-art technology like XNA and .Net. Ah, WP7 is way, way better than Symbian.

    Best regards, Faisal!!

  6. Al Reynolds says:

    Well done for supporting your new employers Microsoft. You get to keep your job when the Nokia cull comes. I hope you enjoy the cold icy waters below the so-called burning platform.

  7. @Mani @Sajid, thanks guys. Yes, I am pretty hopeful that the result of this new Nokia will be good for everyone, developers and end-users.

    @Luca, thanks for appreciation. Yes, as I also posted on FN’s Flash Lite forums, Adobe now have better reason to invest on WP7, and they better do it fast. I’m loving playing with Playbook AIR SDK ;)

    @Al Reynolds, I think it’s a great challenge for Nokia. And they can deliver far better UX than Symbian within months.

    // chall3ng3r //

  8. i disagree with the choice of OS selected, i hoped Android will be the choice;

    – Many manufacturers had adapted rapidly the Android OS to their hardware, Nokia with its team can do it better and get a fast Nokia hardware with Android OS (especially after the time and effort invested in MeeGo & Meamo) vs. Microsoft to adapt its OS

    – OpenSource community to an open operating system, as big as Nokia fans can bring a lot of innovation and rapid growth to apps, features and stability.

    – Android has a bit more time in the mobile market for smart-phones (apps speaking), therefore lots of apps out there.

    – Unfortunately many microsoft developers has lack of experience on mobile applications (due to lack of proper MS operating system for mobiles) – or to be exact – Mobile apps to the mass market (corporations can say goodbye to BlackBerry).

    – As much manufacturers using Android and together with this manage to create a sustainable business model – so do Nokia could.

    – Microsoft is a slow paced company, mobile needs a fast paced operating system.

    TMHO, if not go with Android OS as main OS, Nokia should had announce support to ALL mobile OS, client chooses – smartphones are much like laptops these days; what do you want Linux, Windows, OSX – do the same, today it is not that of a “smoked” idea.

    as for the current developers community; this moves really sucks; – what of the time investing in QT, Symbian – creating all this time knowledge, expertise, libraries and development platforms – to lose it all on the next Nokia phone release. … and the worst of all – go back to Windows OS to develop on Visual Studio (god i hate it!)

    let see what vibe does the MWC bring about this issue on Monday… I hope that at least they focus on;
    – adapting QT & WRT to Windows Phone OS
    – enable support J2ME on Windows Phone OS

    and put their effort together on unify platforms instead of creating new ones, the world does not need to divide anymore, do a f*5king simliar Android API/libraries on the OS so apps migration can be easy.

    … just some of personal thoughts.

  9. @Ido Kobelkowsky, thanks for shring your opinion.

    – Yes, almost every major OEM have Android device, exluding Apple for sure :)

    Same is tru to WP7 as well, if Android is easy to adapt, WP7 is as well. MS want to sell it, so they will make sure it’s easy to adat for OEMs.

    – Symbian was a proprietary OS, Nokia made it Open Source for a while, and then took it back close. So, it’s same as WP7.

    – Yes, true. But it’s just a matter of months for more rapid growth of WP7 apps, because .Net developer community is a lot bigger.

    – Not true. WinMo was there for quite a time. WP7 is just a new and better version of it. It’s easy to develop because of .Net.

    – But don’t you think, there should be a choice? otherwise it will sounce like the movie “Equilibrium”, or to be precise, Apple.

    – MS is now doing pretty good things recently. They are quite okay now with speed of mobile industry.

    – Yeah, I also shared similar idea few times before. These devices are quite powerful, that they should be able to handle multiple OSes just like PCs.

    – Yeah, quite unfortunate for Qt. But MeeGo is still going ahead with Intel, so maybe Intel would buy it and continue futher.

    Lets wish for the best to Nokia :)

    // chall3ng3r //

  10. “but they are pretty good. For example .Net, Xbox, Windows 7, Silverlight.”
    Come on, Sliverlight is being phased out after just few years of life. It definitely cannot be a good example.

    Good that at least there is somebody positive about the Nokia-Microsoft decision talking out loud and clear!

  11. If I was a developer on verge of deciding whether to give up on nokia or not, this blog post and the fact that it is linked from developer network would make the choice clear.
    I just pity the Nokia and any developer buys a byte, not even a word from them.

  12. @Carlos, Thanks. Silverlight is not yet phased out. It couldn’t find space with Flash’s dominance, but MS now made it base for WP7 apps.

    @Ilgaz, Maybe they are a little busy with MWC in Barcelona. So, I hope they will be doing lot of clarification as they free up from there :)

    // chall3ng3r //

  13. One of the best reads on this matter so far. Totally agree with you, just cant understand why people wont embrace this as a good thing and give the partnership the benifit of the doubt? After seeing those pictures of the two concept NokMsf devices – I was blown away, made me realise that change is indeed good for Nokia and a new ecosystem just as good for the consumers. The developers as well, come on – just look at the market potential, instead of just selling on Symbian, they will now be able ot to sell on WP devices as well – no brainer. What MS has to bring into this partnership is incredible, people must wake up and smell the coffee.

  14. Thanks Luis,

    Yeah, those concept Nokia WP7 devices look so cool. I would definitely get one as soon as they are released :D

    I am sure when the first Nokia WP7 device(s?) will be released, there will be great hype in blogsphere and we will see people in lines outside stores ;)

    // chall3ng3r //

  15. maisar says:

    I’m not developer or even researcher..i mean i am just a normal mobile phone user but a big fan of nokia…once i felt something like nokia betrayed us ( fan and developers). I got really sad and started to hate nokia. But then I said I believe in nokia and they know what they are doing..there must be something big and important why they abandoned symbian and then choose WP7 as its primary OS for smartphones. Blogs like this helped me get my love back to nokia…good job Faisal and please keep the good work up

  16. therohan says:

    I am not disappointed by Nokia’s this decision. Moreover i am excited about it. I take it as Nokia adding 1 more OS to its family after Symbian, Qt, MeeGo. It would be interesting to see another OS(WP7) with Nokia and how it drives the competition in the market.
    Looking forward to it guys. :)

  17. Lisa Antony says:

    Good point guys but i feel that working on windows platform is much easier than working on Symbian.. Moreover with 150 million more devices, the scope of symbain platform isn’t dead yet… There’s still a long way to go… I don’t think it should be that difficult for developers to work on windows platform, it just needs a little bit of investment of time,,,
    watch Nokia Developers Weigh in on the Planned Nokia/Microsoft Partnership

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