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BlackBerry maker Research in Motion found itself in an even deeper hole this week after delaying the launch of BlackBerry 10, cutting  jobs and reporting a significant quarterly loss. And now comes news that Microsoft is circling the company.

A report by Reuters this morning, quoting three unnamed sources, says the Redmond company has approached RIM about the possibility of a partnership, hoping to get the Canadian company to adopt Microsoft’s mobile technology in much the same way that Nokia has embraced Windows Phone.

The key excerpt from the story …

One of these options is for RIM to abandon its own operating system and adopt Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had approached RIM in recent months, looking to strike a partnership similar to the one the software giant has with Nokia Oyj, the sources said. Under that partnership, Nokia will use Microsoft’s latest Windows operating system on its smartphones.

In such a scenario, RIM could also look for Microsoft to buy a stake in the company and fund marketing and other expenses, the sources said. However, this option is not attractive to RIM because it would mean the end of the Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s technology independence, they said.

So far, RIM’s board is staying the course, but it’s not clear how long it can hold out.

Here’s the other question: Would this really be a good move for Microsoft? Nokia and BlackBerry have both been struggling in the smartphone market. Despite BlackBerry’s strong legacy, Microsoft wouldn’t exactly tying its fortunes to a market leader if it went this direction.

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