In a deal that places Microsoft squarely in the smart phone making business, they have purchased the products and services division of Nokia for $7.2 billion in cash.  Prior to the deal, Microsoft was more like Google who licenses their Android  phone system to manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC, to now being more like Apple who designs and manufacturers their own phones.

This deal represents a major change in the way that Microsoft will conduct their business.  Going from a licenser to a manufacturer leaves some of their partners with decisions to make.  Will Dell or Hewlett-Packard for example continue to manufacture products licensed from Microsoft?

When Google purchased Motorola they went well out of their way to assure licensees that they would not give themselves preferential treatment.  So far, they have lived up to that promise and as a result, no manufacturers have abandoned the Android ship.  It would seem that Microsoft will have to do the same if they want to continue licensing their Windows phone software.

With the release of the Surface tablet, which Microsoft manufacturers themselves, they showed that they are comfortable going about the business alone; a la the Apple way.

There is one other caveat for Microsoft in this deal.  As pointed out by Ashlee Vance in an article for businessweek.com Microsoft immediately gets access to hundreds of world class engineers and hardware designers.  This could have an immediate impact on Microsoft and its ability to become relevant in the mobile vertical.