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Nokia backs Windows Phone 7

Nokia, the mobile phone maker, has announced plans to ditch its operating system and throw its lot in with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.

The move comes as the Finnish company seeks to halt its decline in the face of growing competition from Apple and Google.

Nokia remains the world's largest smartphone supplier, controlling 37.6 per cent of the market in 2010, according to Gartner.

But its market share is in decline, having dropped from 46.9 per cent a year earlier, while the likes of Apple's iPhone operating system and Android from Google enjoyed rapid growth.

Nokia will now franchise its Symbian operating system and partner with Microsoft, in a move widely anticipated by financial analysts and tech bloggers.

The announcement has some relevance beyond smartphone geeks, as it means Bing will now be the default search engine on new Windows Mobile Nokia devices and Microsoft's adCenter will supply their search advertising.

Nokia had the option to go with Android, which would have meant Google providing the mobile search and ad services.

It remains to be seen whether or not the partnership – which is part of a massive restructuring operation at Nokia – will be enough to change its fortunes.

It is though a coup for Microsoft and could be just what it needed to win more users over to its mobile operating system.

If Nokia can maintain its market share, Bing will be the default search on a growing number of smartphones, which is significant as more and more search activity moves to mobile devices.