Nokia on Tuesday said it expects to begin selling its first smartphone that runs on Microsoft’s Windows 7 later this year, a top executive of the company said.

I have increased confidence that we will launch our first device based on the Windows platform later this year and we will ship our product in volume in 2012, Reuters reported quoting Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop.

Elop confirmed the plans of the latest Windows 7 smartphone at a telecom conference in Singapore, allaying investor fears over extensive delays on the release. Nokia Windows 7 smartphone is also expected to carry Mango update.

Elop also unveiled the N9 smartphone, which will run on the MeeGo platform, and is set to launch later this year.

Elop said 2011 and 2012 would be “transition years” for the company, as it plans to switch from Symbian to Windows Phone. Currently, Nokia has extensive partnership with Microsoft, which it revealed in February.

Industry analysts said Nokia’s sliding market share in the European markets will continue, as the company saw its share plunging to half in the March quarter year-on-year. They also believe Nokia's transitional period would benefit Apple’s iPhone and other players.

Apple and Samsung are forecast to surpass Nokia in smartphone sales in the second quarter, with Samsung occupying the top spot in the global smartphone market.

Nokia has been a leader in the smartphone market worldwide since 1996.