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Nokia enters into partnership with Microsoft

Troubled Finnish Phone giant signs up to partnership with Microsoft in bid to regain former hold on

This "broad strategic partnership" beween Nokia and Microsoft comes two days after Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop sent a bluntly worded memo to his staff warning that the company was in dire straights, on a "burning platform".

The partnership is widely seen as a response to the problems outlined in the memo, in which Elop said that Nokia urgently needed a new strategy after falling "years behind" rival smartphone makers whilst simultaneously being threatened by Chinese manufacturers at the lower end of the market.

Monitoring firm IDC reports that Nokia's share of the smartphone market fell from 38 per cent to 28 per cent in 2010.

Under the new deal, Nokia will use the Windows phone operating company for its smartphones and Nokia's current smartphone operating systems will eventually be sidelined.

Although Nokia will continue to make phones using the current Symbian phone operating system, Symbian will become a "franchise platform".

Nokia Maps will become part of Microsoft's mapping services and Microsoft Bing will power Nokia's search services.

The Meego operating system, which was expected to become the core of Nokia's tablet and smartphone output, has been sidelined, although the company still plans to ship one Meego device by the end of the year.

How Nokia will juggle three different operating systems: Windows, Symbian and Meego, is one of many issues that Elop, a Canadian former Microsoft executive and the first non-Finn to lead Nokia, will have to address if he wants this brave move to be a success for the company.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.