Now that's a face palm for all other Microsoft Windows Phone 7 partners, especially HTC which has a long track-record in customizing Microsoft's Windows Mobile and therefore kept it alive when it was already completely outdated. Stephen Elop, Nokia's CEO, posed on an interesting (really rhetorical?) question in his financial and strategy: "Will Nokia be able to customize everything on Windows Phone 7 in order to differentiate itself?". And his straight forward answer was a simple "Yes" though he quickly pulled it back to say that Nokia likely won't make extensive use of this freedom to tailor Microsoft's mobile OS which Nokia will use as its smartphone platform from now. Instead, Nokia will be cautious and seek to maintain compatibility rather than pushing the boat out too far in tweaking the underlying software.
So far, Microsoft's clear message to the world, to its OEMs like HTC, Samsung, LG and Dell as well as to its developers was that the Windows Phone 7 GUI has to stay untouched which means no HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz for Windows Phone 7.
It's yet not clear if Nokia's allowance will be a general shift in Microsoft's strategy or if Nokia will be the only "premium" partner with this extra allowance!
Cheers ~ Arne