Nokia will be able to customize 'everything' in Windows Phone 7, but likely won't

Stephen Elop, in his financial and strategy briefing continuing Nokia's marathon Capital Markets Day, just posed an interesting rhetorical question: will Nokia be able to "customize everything" on Windows Phone 7 in order to differentiate itself? "Yes!" was Elop's ebullient proclamation, though he quickly pulled it back to say that Nokia likely won't make extensive use of this freedom to tailor Microsoft's OS. Instead, the company will be cautious and seek to maintain compatibility rather than pushing the boat out too far in tweaking the underlying software. That's a major shift for Microsoft, who forbade HTC from skinning Windows Phone 7 with Sense, something the Taiwanese company would surely have loved to do, and limited it to the introduction of a self-contained Hub. Now Nokia's saying it -- perhaps exclusively -- has been given the liberty to play around inside WP7 to its heart's content. We'll see how important that turns out to be whenever Nokia delivers its first device bearing its new smartphone OS. An insider tip tells us the current plan is to introduce such a handset by the end of 2011, potentially based on current hardware. Who's ready for Xbox Live on a future version of the N8?