Andrew Guyton's Blog

I’ve owned my VX6700 for almost two years now, which has given me time to see its shortcomings, especially compared to the somewhat newer iPhone and iPhone 3G, which about half of my friends seem to own.

My biggest complaint so far has been Windows Mobile 5’s browser. It (seemingly) has the html and javascript support of Internet Explorer 3. But what other options are there?

Existing alternatives

About a year and a half ago, a group in Microsoft Research created a Windows Mobile browser with advanced rendering and zooming functionality presumably similar to the features in iPhone’s Safari.

After making a closed beta of their browser a year and a half ago, the internet has heard exactly nothing from them, leading me to speculate that Silverfish has been rolled into a future version of Windows Mobile, especially since the next versions are said to heavily feature multi-touch.

A fancy new browser built into the next OS would be a compelling reason for users that haven’t already sprung for a shiny new iPhone to get a new phone with the next version of Windows Mobile.

Rendering

The best feature of Opera Mobile is something that desktop users have been taking for granted for a long, long time: proper rendering of web pages. Handsets are (apparently) just now overcoming the processor and memory limitations, although pages are still somewhat slow to render.

Zoom

A feature that goes hand-in-hand with desktop-style page rendering is the ability to zoom in on a page. This is a little clunky compared to the multi-touch interface I’m used to using on newer handheld devices, and is somewhat slow to load.

Feel

While the ‘modern’ features of the browser were nice, I experienced many ‘out of memory’ errors on my device, even when viewing relatively simple pages, and even when Opera was the only program running on the device.

Opera doesn’t respect the traditional Windows Mobile interface; instead, it implements its own non-client area, something probably confusing for most users of the program. This is the same problem that Quicktime had on Windows, where it ignored the usual Windows non-client area in favor of the Mac OS interface, a frankly stupid user interface choice.

Conclusion

For simple browsing (the primary use of mobile web browsing) I found myself gravitating back to the craptastic version of Internet Explorer built into my phone. I found IE’s low memory usage and intuitive interface to be more important than proper page rendering. It’s a good program to have on a device in case it’s needed, but won’t replace IE on Windows Mobile any time soon.

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