A little-discussed fact about the Nokia-Microsoft partnership is that Nokia has permission to create custom Windows Phones skins for its own devices. And while they have yet to do anything, these alleged (and stomach-churning) mockups from a Nokia senior designer in the R&D department not only show what a custom Nokia skin might look like, but also provides the strongest argument for why Nokia (or anyone, really) shouldn't lay a finger on the Windows Phone UI.
The images were drudged up by PocketNow, who says that Nokia assumed no responsibility for the designs (though it acknowledged the designer was a Nokia employee at the time). Above and beyond the fact that this design totally undermines everything that makes Windows Phone so great, it looks like it was designed by the person who designed the Orbitz website circa-2005. Form and function are not cohesively unified. In fact, it looks like function was tossed out the window entirely. This is flash for the sake of flash. Wasted space, obscured information and skeuomorphic design are recurring themes here.
And maybe this shouldn't come as a shock, considering Nokia used the Symbian platform to commit numerous design atrocities. But what was Microsoft thinking when it opened up the remotest of possibilites for Nokia to come in and possibly lay its lascivious hands all over the pure, innocent Metro UI (aside from the fact that it was desperate for a high-profile partnership for their fledgling OS)? Maybe I'm getting a bit fanatical, considering this is very much just a concept, and the designer responsible doesn't even work for Nokia anymore. But damn this is what it pays their designers for?
Despite all that, there's some good that can be extracted from this agreement that Nokia weaselled its way into, and that good would come in the form of a camera app. Because if Nokia's going to start stuffing Windows Phones with the PureView technology, it needs a proper app to go with it. The stock camera app on Windows Phone is terrible. It's slow. You don't tap to focus, you tap to shoot. Zooming is carried out in rigid increments. Nokia could probably end up doing some good in this area.
There's also some consolation in the fact that shortly after the partnership was announced Nokia's CTO stated that he had no desire to mess with Microsoft's design. But things always change. Companies change their mind. I just hope Nokia doesn't delude itself into thinking that a Motorola-esque WP7 skin would be good for anyone. Because it wouldn't. [PocketNow]