IE 6: now coming to a cell phone near you

Something was brought to my attention which, to say the least, left me a little baffled: IE 6 is coming to mobile phones…

The Windows Mobile Team blog writes in Internet Explorer Mobile 6 that they’re bringing a new web browser version to the Windows Mobile operating system. And guess what: major parts of it seems to be based on IE 6!

The idea is to offer a full desktop web browsing experience but on a cell phone. From the CNET article Inside Microsoft’s new mobile browser:

The biggest benefit will be the fact that it is the full IE 6 rendering engine, meaning that any page that renders properly in IE 6 on the PC should do just fine on Windows Mobile.

What? Like, what?!

The reputation and history of IE 6

Just as pointed out in many comments to the Windows Mobile Team post, first of all, IE 6 is probably one of the most hated web browsers that have ever existed. Second, even if they didn’t have anything in common, just by choosing that name, it would install a dissatisfactory feeling amongst developers.

The lack of standards support in IE 6

As stated, it’s a mobile web browser based on IE 6, but with Jscript v5.7 (same as in the upcoming IE 8). So, while I really appreciate better scripting support, my conclusion is that this also means that it will have all the numerous HTML and CSS flaws in IE 6, problems everyone thought was being phased out with the ever-decreasing market share of IE 6.

Coming to a mobile world near you, all of these bugs, and these shortcomings and, best of all, once again introducing the concept of hasLayout.

Fatal strategic error

To be honest, I can’t really fathom this. It has to be some sort of fatal strategy error in the Windows Mobile development. I acknowledge the fact that they want a more desktop-like web browser with more features, and their need to try and meet up with their competitors. But really, to choose the core rendering of the most flawed web browser in the market and have it as the corner stone for a new web browser, released in late 2008 or perhaps 2009, is ridiculous!

IE 6 was released in 2001, and has been the shame of the internet for many, many years. To 7 (!) years later think that that web browser is what they need to compete with Safari for iPhone and Opera Mini is not even laughable, but just out sad.

A number of companies are gradually phasing out IE 6 support, as it’s just not worth the development costs for workarounds, fixes and hacks anymore. Think web sites will work well in IE 6 for Windows Mobile? Not very likely…

ZDNet wrote about worldwide smart phone market share, where it looked like this:

  • Nokia: 47 %
  • Apple: 17 %
  • RIM: 15 %
  • Microsoft Windows Mobile phones: 14 %

With bringing IE 6 to Windows Mobile, how do you think this will pan out for Windows Mobile share in the future? My take: not for the better, that’s for sure.


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