Would a Microsoft (NASD: MSFT) and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) Marriage Challenge Apple (NASD: AAPL) and Google (NASD: GOOG)?

MSFTThe future of Microsoft (NASD: MSFT) may look very different from it’s past. The tech giant which once sold Windows operating systems and Office software programs may be embracing a change in strategy, after seeing their bread and butter business diminish as consumers flock to tablet computers, and increasingly, Apple (NASD: AAPL) and Google’s (NASD: GOOG) Android operating systems.

Last year, Microsoft showed a stark departure from their history by entering the tablet market with the Surface, which in some ways directly competes with some of their own customers. With the growth in mobile, the next logical growth path would be in the mobile phone industry – but, as Blackberry has shown, the competition in that market is cut throat, and the market is already crowded with Apple and Android offerings.

Despite this, values persist in the telco industry which could prompt a slew of acquisitions in future years. The most obvious of the potential takeover targets is Nokia (NYSE: NOK), the once esteemed mobile giant which has lost much of its luster in recent years.

Is a Microsoft led takeover of Nokia in the cards? Probably not – with the brightening future of Windows Phones, there’s no longer a pressing need for Microsoft to buy the Finnish handset manufacturer. There was a time months ago when such a deal made sense. Windows was a fledgling mobile operating system, mired in stagnation, and Nokia was the only partner truly dedicated to the platform. Microsoft needed to ensure that Nokia remained committed to Windows. Buying the company was the best way to ensure that. Windows is the fastest growing smartphone operating system. Over the last three quarters ended in April, Windows garnered 5.6% of U.S. smartphone sales, up from 3.8% in the previous year. That said, growing from a base of zero is bound to produce large percentage change, so the results must be taken with a grain of salt.

While Nokia is the most important player in the Windows ecosystem today, expect Chinese manufacturers to drive the platform’s growth over the long term. Microsoft already has relationships in place with Huawei and ZTE in mobile along with Lenovo as a major partner in the PC space. These allies will give Microsoft the scale needed to challenge Samsung’s and Apple’s dominance.

If Microsoft were to acquire Nokia, it would be taking on a major headache. Microsoft would have to find a way to integrate the two businesses while simultaneously shedding thousands of employees. In addition, it would risk annoying other Windows manufacturers that might be unhappy about Microsoft making its own handsets.