Microsoft has announced that it has partnered with Nokia to bring the Windows Phone 7 operating system to future Nokia smartphones. This announcement comes very soon after Nokia’s CEO lamented his company’s inability to keep up with competition from Google and Apple.

“Nokia and Microsoft will combine our strengths to deliver an ecosystem with unrivalled global reach and scale,” Nokia CEO Stephen Elop stated. “It’s now a three-horse race.”

Nokia will incorporate Microsoft’s Bing search service across all of its devices and Nokia maps will become a key component of Microsoft’s own mapping services. As for Nokia’s current OS Symbian it will become what the company called a franchise platform.

“I am excited about this partnership with Nokia. Ecosystems thrive when fuelled by speed, innovation and scale,” added Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer. “The partnership announced today provides incredible scale, vast expertise in hardware and software innovation and a proven ability to execute.”