Symbian slowly ceases to be Nokia's pride and joy after the deal earlier this year with Microsoft that will see Windows Phone become the primary operating platform. But the operating system is certainly not dead yet. Upcoming updates to Nokia's Symbian Belle operating system will include a number of free apps from Microsoft, while some of the programs will come as native for the first time outside the Windows platform.

In Q4 2011, all Symbian Belle-based smartphones owners will be allowed to update their software platform via a Software Update app, which will bring such free apps as: Microsoft Lync 2010 Mobile, Microsoft PowerPoint Broadcast, Microsoft OneNote and Microsoft Document Connection. Early 2012 is said to bring a second update coming with Microsoft OneNote SharePoint-syncing capability, and - most of all - Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint "as native applications for the first time outside the Windows platform," according to Nokia Conversations.

The same Nokia blog post says that more Symbian updates and new devices are planned for 2012, while Nokia's software support for Symbian will not end before 2016. Computerworld cites Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates who notes that the new offer including free Microsoft Apps is "more about getting the Symbian audience ready to make the move to Windows Phone.... It's a good way for Nokia and Microsoft to keep interest alive with users until the new Windows Mango phones are available."

The Nokia 703 is rumored to be released this Autumn (northern hemisphere) as Nokia's first Windows-based handset.

Announced in late August, the Symbian Belle OS is the latest update to what was formerly the world's most popular mobile OS and replaces Symbian Anna.

It includes the following improvements:

  • free-form, differently-sized, live widgets;
  • improved status bar with a pull down notifications tab;
  • modernized navigation and options bar located at the bottom of the screen;
  • NFC integration;
  • visual multitasking.
  • New devices featuring Symbian Belle will include Nokia 600, Nokia 700 and Nokia 701 (all three scheduled for Q3 release), while Nokia N8, E7, C7, C6-01, X7, E6 and 500 will reportedly become Symbian Belle upgradeable.