First look at Sea Ray, Nokia's first Windows Phone 7 device

With the body of a Nokia N9 and the brains of Windows Phone 7, Sea Ray shows the promise of Nokia and Microsoft's new partnership.

The new Nokia Sea Ray resembles the N9, pictured.

Excited about the Nokia N9, but don't want to be stuck with the withering MeeGo operating system for the next two years? Take a look at the Nokia Sea Ray.

Earlier this week, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop gathered his employees for the unveiling of a “super confidential” new product. Before revealing it, he asked everyone to “put away their cameras” – but apparently some employees kept them out anyway, and now pictures and video of the unveiling are in the wild. Is this a leak? Or is it – judging from the professional-quality video that came out of the event – an “unofficial official” leak? Either way, we’ve got a glimpse at “Sea Ray,” Nokia’s first Windows Phone 7 handset.

Physically, the phone looks almost identical to Nokia’s N9, which was announced on Tuesday. It has a featureless glass front, polycarbonate body, and an 8-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens. The crucial difference is that the leaked photos and video show it running the Windows Phone 7 “Mango” operating system.

Why is that a big deal? In its Tuesday announcement, Nokia confirmed that the N9 will run the mobile Linux-based MeeGo operating system, which Nokia developed with Intel. But earlier this year, Nokia also signed a deal with Microsoft in which it agreed to port all its smartphones (including those running the Symbian operating system) to Windows Phone 7.

InformationWeek reports that with the deal, Microsoft is hoping to attract enterprise and business users, who would be able to run business apps such as Microsoft Office on Nokia smartphones. The apparent existence of this new handset signals that the N9 may be the only Nokia smartphone to ship with MeeGo; the company's future handsets would instead come with Windows Phone 7 out of the box.

If true, that’s good news for developers: they could focus their energies on developing apps for the Windows Phone 7 platform, which is already widely supported, rather than worrying about compatibility with MeeGo.

The leaked photos and video do show a few apparent physical differences between Sea Ray and the N9. The new phone has its LED above the rear-facing camera lens, rather than alongside it, and also sports an extra hardware button along the side that Engadget speculates is a manual shutter release.

No word yet on when this new handset will be released, although it’s safe to say it’ll be no earlier than this fall, since Mango isn’t sheduled to be released until then.

What’s your take on Nokia’s first Windows Phone 7 entry – and does the company’s switch from MeeGo to WP7 sway you one way or the other? Let us know in the comments.

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