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The two players left holding the Windows Phone 7 (news, site) baby need some big ideas to make a sizeable dent in the market.

After the Storm

Following the excitement of Microsoft's purchase of Skype last week, which will have a big impact on all Microsoft's products, the company still has work to do to make its partnership with Nokia a success and to push the Windows Phone mobile platform toward wider success.

Naturally, rumors, leaks and educated guessing are helping play a part of what we think or know about will happen next as they try to challenge Apple and Android in the smartphone market.Their next big opportunity is the Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" upgrade, due later this year.

[UPDATE] There's an interesting rumor doing the rounds that Microsoft could buy Nokia's mobile unit outright. This comes from industry insider Eldar Murtazin and could shift the balance of power in this deal firmly Microsoft's way, more on this if there turns out to be any substance in it.

Better Comms, Office

For example, Microsoft is supposed to be incorporating some unified communications skills to the phone, so it will choose the best way to get in touch with someone, be it via Facebook, Instant Messenger, AOL or another service, depending what they are logged into.

For workers, we expect both SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage service, and Office 365 to be integrated into the next update, allowing access to files and documents, with the possibility of editing within the web browser.

Both of these can make the phone more attractive to business users, but there are also social and gaming features that will help make the phones appeal to a wider user base.

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Making a better Office on your phone

Nokia's Next Move

Microsoft isn't doing all the legwork in this partnership though. The word on the street is that Nokia's maps technology will likely replace what Microsoft currently uses in Bing Maps. Both have made huge investments in mapping, but Nokia's Navteq seems to have the high ground.

There are more features yet to be unveiled in Mango and we await the first WP7-powered Nokia phones. There's also the issue of what other phone makers will do in light of the deal, and we also wonder if Mango go into all Windows Phones or will the company limit it to new devices that spring from the Nokia partnership.