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.
Strategically, this will be a very poor move for Microsoft. But, it certainly goes to show just how little coordination there is within the ranks of the Redmond giant.
With Microsofts ambition to dominate all the markets they choose to compete in, I can only imagine that keeping IE6 around for another 7 years, is going to keep Sharepoint the awful mess that it is.
IE6 needs to be expired, and we need to move forwards. This is NOT a step in the right direction.
Microsoft never cease to amaze me.
[…] tÃ¤mÃ¤ vain vitsi, onhan? Nyt ei kyllÃ¤ olla edes lÃ¤hellÃ¤kÃ¤Ã¤n aprillipÃ¤ivÃ¤Ã¤. Robert Nyman kirjoittaa blogissaan, ettÃ¤ Windows Mobilen uusi selain perustuu Internet Explorerin pahamaineiseen kuutosversioon: The […]
I had a chance to talk with some folks from Nokia and their web platform seems to running on Webkit, which is nice. I'd be interested in creating an app that could work on Nokia, iPhone, AIR and the web, all using a similar code base (with the exception of device-specific APIs).
I can see why MS would go with IE6, though. I really do. It's a browser that renders almost all pages just fine. It's just a pain for the rest of us to develop for.
Thanks for your comments!
I understand your point, especially if we look at already existing web sites. However, for any kind of new development, the lack of standards support in IE 6 is for me is practically a deal-breaker.
With desktop web browsers, web developers have had to support IE 6 because of its huge market share. Since it will be such a minority on mobile web browsers, and especially amongst all web browsers as a whole, I'm certain that it will be very difficult to motivate financially the extra development hours it takes.
Therefore, personally, I don't regard this as a step forward, but rather a short-sighted mistake on their behalf.
This might be a big of an overreaction… (not that I don't loathe IE6, too, but…)
If you poke into the comments (here and here), you'll see that IEM6's version number doesn't indicate any sort of direct relationship with the desktop IE6; rather it ties to Windows Mobile 6, which is the current release of their mobile platform.
It looks like the browser guts will be ie7,8 based.
Okay, now everyone exhale.. 🙂
[…] these days is focused on the iPhone and Blackberry (both of which use Webkit), and Opera Mini. As Robert Nyman points out, Microsoft and IE have only a minority share in smartphone market. That means IE6 for WinMo is […]
For some reason I keep thinking about that ol' horror movie cliche – after the big battle at the end, the big monster's dead, the kids can finally let down their guard…
… and then the monster's eyes open just before the credits roll.
This summer, IE6: Return of Quirks Mode
Actually, the Mobile Team guy doesn't mention about CSS, only JScript being of a later version. The other commenter doesn't have any facts, and doesn't seem to be a official Microsoft person.
Another scary look is a shot of the W3C compatibility test of Mobile IE 6.
Ha ha! Yep, it's feels like the end of Carrie or something!
I did some tests on IE 6 standards support http://www.brucelawson.co.uk/2008/ie-6-mobile-sta…. Somewhat lacking, is the short conclusion …
Great, thanks for the input!
Based on Bruce's research, I'll retract my above claims. 🙂 This looks to be a horrible horrible decision from MSFT.
Thanks for the great work, Bruce.
I might be wrong but isn't the previous versions based on IE3? IE6 may not be great but……
[…] 1 minute Microsoft stating “We know IE 6 sucks” (well, don’t use it as a base for the next mobile Internet Explorer then!) […]