Intel, Microsoft, Nokia: Scratching One Another's Backs

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Finally, outside of Apple ( AAPL) and Google ( GOOG), things are getting exciting once again in tech.

In case you have not been paying attention, let me give you a swift rundown of several stories that have been nicely covered here on TheStreet and elsewhere over the past several months:
  • Intel (INTC) makes push for ultrabooks.
  • Concurrently, Microsoft (MSFT) jumps on the bandwagon.
  • Windows about to seamlessly power smartphones, tablets, tablet PCs and laptops, possibly even a Nokia (NOK) tablet.
  • As Peter Pachal argues over at Mashable, Microsoft is positioning itself to pose a considerable threat to Apple's iOS and Google's Android.

    As usual, we can hardly call this a novel "strategy." It's merely a turn of events that takes another page out of Apple's book. If you're a Windows user, who is familiar with or also uses iOS, you've seen Microsoft make Windows look, function and feel more like iOS over the years. And now, it appears that Microsoft will set up a situation where the forthcoming Windows 8 runs seamlessly across PCs, tablets, fancy new hybrids and, quite possibly smartphones.

    If this plan works, will it dethrone Apple? Probably not. But, it will certainly make Microsoft a player in the tablet and smartphone arenas, which could provide meaningful fuel to boost the company's already massive revenues.

    The partnership between Microsoft and Nokia -- and the possibility that Microsoft takes out Nokia -- makes this situation all the more interesting. The Lumia from Nokia appears to only be the beginning. As a standalone product, it and other Windows phones will do fine. With any luck, they'll scoot ahead of Research in Motion's ( RIMM) Blackberry and close the gap between Android and iOS and Windows in the mobile market.

    Windows 8, as a an operating system that crosses platforms, holds an incredible amount of promise, however, for Microsoft and Intel, and also for companies like Nokia as well. In a long-term portfolio, all three stocks have their places.

    MSFT and INTC fill the role of dividend-paying growth stocks. Both firms have a history of rising dividends with no end to the increases in sight. NOK, of course, represents the speculative play (and, for now, also pays a dividend). With Microsoft's backing (or more), it likely becomes the flagship company to produce Window's-based smartphones and tablets that work seamlessly with any Windows laptop or desktop computer.

    In several industries, particularly media, partnerships have become increasingly important. We've seen it happen somewhat rapidly with collaboration between Coinstar ( CSTR) and Verizon ( VZ), and Disney ( DIS) and Comcast ( CMCSA), just to name a few. Content owners and deliverers, broadcasters, media and telecommunications giants have come to realize that they're much stronger if they operate as a more unified front. These associations give them the ability to better serve consumers who expect to be able to consume content across devices anywhere and anytime.

    It's really not all that different in tech, particularly in the gadget and PC spaces. This is one reason why Apple is so successful. You can now download something to your Macbook and it instantly appears on your iPad and iPhone. This is exactly the direction Microsoft is headed with Windows 8. The writing is clearly on the wall. Somebody, outside of Google, is set to be more than just a feeble competitor to Apple.
    At the time of publication, the author was long INTC and NOK, and may open a position in MSFT over the next 72 hours.