Nokia boss Stephen Elop says his company's relationship with Microsoft is as strong as ever despite the latter's entry into the mobile hardware business and strong competition from rival Windows Phone manufacturers.
Speaking at a telecoms conference in Barcelona, Elop insisted Nokia still had a “special” relationship with his former employers, one that gave it a seat at the table in high-level meetings other Windows Phone makers weren't invited to.
Along with the near-simultaneous launch of all-new versions of both Windows and Windows Phone this year, Microsoft has also introduced its first own-brand tablet, the Surface, and rumours are rife that it's looking seriously at a smartphone equivalent too.
In the meantime, both HTC (with the 8X and 8S) and Samsung (with the Ativ) have produced strong rivals to Nokia's Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 – in fact, HTC proclaimed the 8X and 8S as WinPho “signature phones” at the official launch event, with Ballmer very much in attendance and happy to help with the cheer-leading.
But Elop says Nokia's preferred status is very much still in place, despite how individual devices might stack up against each other.
“They're not sitting in the priority meetings that we're sitting in,” Elop said of Nokia's Windows Phone competitors.
Fair enough, but they're still producing some fairly impressive devices all the same. We wouldn't advise lingering in those meetings too long, Stephen...