Microsoft and Nokia are expected to announce an alliance today that will see Microsoft’s market-leading ‘Office’ software made available on Nokia handsets. Although the two market giants are rivals in the mobile platform space – via Nokia’s Symbian and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile – the alliance is seen as a way to better compete with mutual rivals such as Google and Apple. According to a Cnet News report, Microsoft is attempting to reposition the next version of Office (‘Office 2010’) as available on many more platforms other than the desktop PC environment, where it is a clear market-leader. In mobile, the US software giant has already demonstrated native versions of Office running on its Windows Mobile platform, but the deal with Nokia – the world’s largest handset vendor – will significantly expand the number of Office-compatible mobile devices. For Nokia, the deal is seen as a way for the Finnish vendor to better compete with rivals such as BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion in the mobile enterprise space. Microsoft is also understood to be testing web-based versions of Office software such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel that can run in browsers other than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which could make Office available on Linux-based machines for the first time.

According to Cnet News, Microsoft released a technology preview of the PC-based Office 2010 software in July, although it has yet to start publicly testing the browser-based versions. The final version of Office 2010 is due next year. The report notes that, despite being fierce rivals in the mobile space, it is not the first time that Microsoft and Nokia have worked together; Nokia already has a license that allows its phones to connect to Exchange Servers using Microsoft’s ActiveSync protocol, while in 2007 Microsoft struck a deal with Nokia to have Windows Live services run on the Finnish vendor’s phones. The two firms are expected to reveal further details of their latest alliance at a press conference in New York later today.