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Nokia Lumia 900 at CES keynote

LAS VEGAS, USA – “Metro, Metro, Metro, Windows, Windows Windows”. Ballmer, Ballmer, Ballmer! That’s right, we’re at CES and Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer leaves his keynote audience in no doubt about what 2012 will bring.

And Nokia’s phones will be at the centre of the plan. The tiles that you see on a Nokia Lumia phone such as the Lumia 710, Lumia 800 and now Lumia 900 will soon have even more significance, when Windows 8 launches with it’s “no compromise” web experience.

The highlight of the keynote for me comes in the middle of the Xbox section, during a demo of the amazing voice control open to fans of the gaming console. At one point the speaker shows how you can move from your Xbox seamlessly to a hand-held device.

“I just happen to have a Nokia Lumia 900 in my hand, for all those who don’t want to know the score look away now,” he says.

By then it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Alabama would win, according to a colleague, who just happens to be an Alabama man.

Straight away, the action from Monday’s big game appears on the Nokia Lumia 900‘s 4.3-screen, via the ESPN app.

Then, I know that Nokia and Microsoft are on to a winner. 

Soon, the Windows Phone experience will be the most joined-up of any phone on the market, in my opinion.

“Windows phone is the first phone that puts people first,” says Steve Ballmer. He then goes on to list the Nokia Windows phones that will be hitting the North American market: The Nokia Lumia 710 on T-Mobile, the Lumia 800, which will be available in Microsoft stores and the Lumia 900, unveiled by Nokia CEO Stephen Elop two hours earlier.

After a full demo of the Nokia phones’ capabilities on the giant screen, by another speaker, he says of the Lumia 900: “It’s blazing fast on the AT&T network and it will be heavily promoted in the AT&T stores in the next few months.”

Joe Belfiore with his Nokia Lumia 800

Later, what struck me about the keynote was the depth of the Microsoft-Nokia Windows phone partnership. This was underlined by a meeting with Windows wizard Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president and director of Windows Phone Program Management.

He was full of admiration for the Nokia phones and praised their quality and the people who design them.

“Across the line of handsets, Nokia’s craftmanship, attention to detail, focus on design is really something that we’ve been craving,” he told Nokia Conversations.

“The people on the engineering team that have been building Windows phones have been incredibly happy with the level of quality that we’re seeing from Nokia – the originality, beauty, elegance, all those things, are a great fit for Windows phone.

“We are excited to see Nokia phones coming to the US, but the Lumia 900 in particular, getting a phone on LTE that has the great powerful characteristics:  A larger screen, front-facing camera and, by the way, it looks beautiful on that screen.  I saw a great demo of it.”

And Joe was keen to point out, that the partnership’s fusion of software and hardware skills is leading to devices that are far less demanding in terms of battery and processing.

“One of the design points from the Windows engineering team is making sure the operating system stacks from the bottom to the top as efficient, high performance to keep the effect on on batteries to a minimum.

“We have a sub-team that is exclusively focused on performance health and battery and I think this characteristic of the operating system is one of its strengths.

“You can build a less expensive phone with better battery life because the OS doesn’t need a huge amount of resources to perform.”

So, the acid test. I asked Joe which phone he was using and he told me: “The Nokia Lumia 800, but I’m looking forward to having a Lumia 900 too.”

To prove it, he pulled his Lumia 800 out of his pocket and proudly showed off his Xbox avatar.