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Guest chucky.egg
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Guest chucky.egg

I've long since given up on trying to browse "any" site on my device (a QVGA Professional), and now I commonly just think "I'll do that on my laptop later". But, out of optimism more than expectation, I keep looking for a good solution and noticed news items this week that struck a cord.

Andy Lees talks up the next version of PIE

According to Lees, the new Internet Explorer for Windows Mobile, announced earlier this year and scheduled for release in approximately six months, will be "the full IE 6, not a cut-down browser." Users will be able to run AJAX-based applications via IE that won't run on competing Apple, Nokia, or Google Android-based smartphones, he promised. Source

So, coming soon is a WM version of software they [wanted to] replace on the desktop how long ago? I never even tried IE7 because I'd already gone to FF on my PC, but I keep a copy of IE6 for those sites that can't handle real standards.

IBM re-invent the wheel, but make it square

"Highlight" is a Firefox-based plug-in that allows end users to script common tasks on sites and boil them down to super simple mini-sites that are more easily digested on mobile browsers, at which point the new sites are copied up to a proxy server. Source

To be entirely honest I thought this was a joke at first. Basically, visit the site on your PC, hash some pages together and host them somewhere else for later viewing on your device. Er. That'd be a "no" from me.

Nielsen Mobile's "Critical Mass" survey

The firm found that 82% of iPhone owners access the mobile internet, "making them five times as likely to do so as the average mobile consumer". Source

According to this in the US 4% of users who access the web from their device use an iPhone, compared to 2% for the nearest WM device.

Box.net CEO sees more iPhone users

The CEO of online collaboration startup Box.net has been watching the iPhone’s impact on his business, and he marvels at the results. Though there are millions more devices out there running Windows Mobile software from Microsoft (MSFT) and BlackBerry software from RIM, his usage logs show that iPhone users are already accessing his service through the Safari browser just as often as the other gadgets – suggesting that iPhone owners are more likely to actually use advanced Internet features. Source

OK, to summarise all that -

  1. MS plan to give us a browser from 7 years ago, but not yet
  2. IBM want us to use a PC instead
  3. Nielsen see a clear growth in mobile internet access, partly driven by iPhone
  4. Web-services take up increase, partly driven by iPhone
In the same week that Windows Live guy announces his love for iPhone (source) I'm resisting the urge to send MS a "slap on the back of the head" by email.

I'm downloading Opera 9.51b1 now and hoping it's as good as people say.

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Guest Dark Horse

Good post!

What's annoying is that it neededn't be that way, both the ancient BlackBerry browser and even the 2 year old Nokia browser on S60 are way better than anything available on Windows Smartphone. Opera Mini has the right idea (smaller mobile Web instead of standard Web on a mobile device) but with the wrong technology (Java shava).

Along with the browser though, the other hindrance has been data costs that have only recently become competitive. And then there's the whole value proposition of mobile Internet, apart from email, what would you seriously want it for? The telco's don't seem to know and neither do the content providers. Location based services are a good idea but were slow to take off. Media has been a big in the form of crappy, annoying ring-tones and games, neither of which really requires full blown Web access.

These days, I actually end up using mobile Internet far more at home when I can't be bothered to switch on the laptop rather than out and about!

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Guest Monolithix

I use mobile internet all the time when I'm out and about! I have Newsgator Go to keep track of my RSS feeds, not all of which provide full-stories, so its awesome to be able to click through and not have to watch as PIE panics trying to churn out the full site.

If more websites had mobile versions available it would be less of an issue, for the mean time Opera 9.5 fills the gap!

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Guest deadphill
OK, to summarise all that -
  1. MS plan to give us a browser from 7 years ago, but not yet
  2. IBM want us to use a PC instead
  3. Nielsen see a clear growth in mobile internet access, partly driven by iPhone
  4. Web-services take up increase, partly driven by iPhone
In the same week that Windows Live guy announces his love for iPhone (source) I'm resisting the urge to send MS a "slap on the back of the head" by email.

I'm downloading Opera 9.51b1 now and hoping it's as good as people say.

Just to quote on your summaries:

1. Whatever MS do it will be a hell of a lot better than the crap they have given us with PIE. However as you say its seven years old, and I have heard it called on more than one occasion "unsafe"

2. IBM want us to use a PC. I don't think they even care any more. They don't even make laptops or desktop pc's any more!

3.The iPhone has made everyone sit up and listen. Whether they choose to do anything about it will remain to be seen. I certainly hope they do or else my next device will be an iPhone!

4. Web services are really only able to be taken up on depending on the browser. If they are not careful MS could find that Safari will end up being a major rival as people with their iPhones may want the same experience when at home!

I really do hope that MS get a grip soon, and I certainly hope WM7 does not contain IE6!

Cheers

Phill

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Guest Menneisyys

Also make sure you make a generic search for "browser" in the forums here, the hits restricted to my nick. I've published tons of related info & articles - you'll like them, I'm pretty sure.

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Guest Menneisyys
Opera Mini has the right idea (smaller mobile Web instead of standard Web on a mobile device) but with the wrong technology (Java shava).

What's the problem with Java? Currently, it's only the lack of italics and copy-text-from-webpages that is really missing from Opera Mini.

Which MIDlet Manager are you using? You may be using the wrong one :D

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Guest chucky.egg

For me, personally (I know not everyone would agree) Java is not the same.

I want "native" apps. If I wanted Java I'd get a Nokia. Java feels like it defeats the object of a smart device.

/rant

The points I was trying to make in my first post was these:

1. WM is very capable, but badly let down not least by the historical lack of a good native web browser.

2. There is a clear, and growing, market for mobile web use - we've been lamenting the lack of decent data bundles for years here! - and yet there still seems to be little effort being put into a solution.

3. MS and IBM should hang their heads in shame.

4. Much as I hate the publicity iPhone gets MS can't complain when they leave it to OEMs to develop their UI

On a positive note Opera 9.51b1 has really seriously impressed me so far. Not perfect, but for a Beta very very encouraging.

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Guest Menneisyys
For me, personally (I know not everyone would agree) Java is not the same.

I want "native" apps. If I wanted Java I'd get a Nokia. Java feels like it defeats the object of a smart device.

/rant

Let me disagree - there are excellent apps & games written in Java. While Symbian is still better when it comes to Java (support for Bluetooth and hardware(!) M3G acceleration being the two most important bullets here), some Windows Mobile MIDlet Managers (Jbed and Jblend) are very well written and are highly recommended.

For example, there still isn't anything better to access Gmail than their Java client. Also, Opera Mini is a frekingly well written browser, particularly for people not having access to anything faster than GPRS cellular speeds.

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Guest efjay
I'm resisting the urge to send MS a "slap on the back of the head" by email.

Please, please, do us all a favour and DONT resist that urge, DO IT! Someone dearly needs to step up and give MS a real good hiding, not just a slap. Their recent efforts to "improve" WM with the 6.1 release are laughable. They should do us all a favour and either shoot themselves in the head and call it quits or get off their lazy butts and DO SOMETHING!!

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Guest dearsina

The iPhone browser makes browsing with PIE a joke. And not a funny joke, one of those stupid jokes you get in Xmas crackers. But it's important to remember that even if PIE6 was the shizzle, the iPhone hardware (large, multi-touch screen) will always trump it. Also, you don't find many sites that are dedicated to the WM platform, while every major outlet now has a iPhone version, and obviously if you have a dedicated team to make a version of your site for a dedicated phone, that version of your site is going to be better than any that a silver bullet PIE will present.

I joined this forum in 2002, a few months after Paul started it, and just when the first WM device came out on Orange. Back then the WM devices broke some serious ground (the features were years ahead of anything the competition had going). Today, after years of complacency (can you believe they've upgraded the browser ONCE since 2002?) and very stiff competition from both Symbian, OSX and soon Andriod, the days of the WM empire, my fellow members, look to be counted.

It's as if Microsoft don't get it. They didn't get it with Push email (hence the Crackberry's remarkable popularity), and they haven't got it with a decent browser. I don't suppose they can afford to miss many more hurdles like this.

Edited by dearsina
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Guest namiran
The iPhone browser makes browsing with PIE a joke. And not a funny joke, one of those stupid jokes you get in Xmas crackers. But it's important to remember that even if PIE6 was the shizzle, the iPhone hardware (large, multi-touch screen) will always trump it. Also, you don't find many sites that are dedicated to the WM platform, while every major outlet now has a iPhone version, and obviously if you have a dedicated team to make a version of your site for a dedicated phone, that version of your site is going to be better than any that a silver bullet PIE will present.

I joined this forum in 2002, a few months after Paul started it, and just when the first WM device came out on Orange. Back then the WM devices broke some serious ground (the features were years ahead of anything the competition had going). Today, after years of complacency (can you believe they've upgraded the browser ONCE since 2002?) and very stiff competition from both Symbian, OSX and soon Andriod, the days of the WM empire, my fellow members, look to be counted.

It's as if Microsoft don't get it. They didn't get it with Push email (hence the Crackberry's remarkable popularity), and they haven't got it with a decent browser. I don't suppose they can afford to miss many more hurdles like this.

Neither have they got it with the UI. I dont know the hardware specs of the iphone, but really everything works fluently on it. I've just got the htc diamond, and even though it is very nice with tflo3d, it not working fluently at all. Now i could blame htc for this and the hardware, but htc are atleast trying hard. What is ms doing?

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Guest jimbouk

I am just enjoying the ride. About nine years ago, I got an spv phone, it was fun having my emails from outlook synced (abeit by cable) - but browsing the web wasnt realy that good. Over the years, I had an e200, c500, m500, Jamin, M3100, Tytn2 and it was only really with Opera Mini that I could surf the web at any speed and use.

I now have a Diamond. I have the built in choice of PIE and Opera. Last night I was sat in traffic in the West End and I downloaded from CoPilot the latest speed camera update via Opera on my device, saved it to my internal storage, unzipped it and applied it to copilot. No pc involved.

Now that is what I call progress.

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Guest Gerald.D
I am just enjoying the ride. About nine years ago, I got an spv phone, it was fun having my emails from outlook synced (abeit by cable) - but browsing the web wasnt realy that good. Over the years, I had an e200, c500, m500, Jamin, M3100, Tytn2 and it was only really with Opera Mini that I could surf the web at any speed and use.

I now have a Diamond. I have the built in choice of PIE and Opera. Last night I was sat in traffic in the West End and I downloaded from CoPilot the latest speed camera update via Opera on my device, saved it to my internal storage, unzipped it and applied it to copilot. No pc involved.

Now that is what I call progress.

It pains me to say this - and this is coming from someone whose first Windows CE machine was the Philips Nino, and who has lost count of the number of Windows PDA's/Smartphones he's had between that and the last one he bought, the MDA Vario II - but whilst that may be progress in the Windows Mobile world, it's positively archaic compared to how things work now in the iPhone world.

If one or more of your Apps has an update available, you get a little number against the App Store icon telling you, and with three touches on the screen, everything updates. No thought involved.

I of course appreciate and respect that the specific example you are talking about is one where the iPhone can't even compete, because it doesn't have (yet) a proper navigation App. But it's the totally seemless integration of hardware, software and services that the iPhone delivers, that to my mind will probably all but kill off Windows mobile within 18 months, if not sooner.

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Guest Dark Horse
What's the problem with Java? Currently, it's only the lack of italics and copy-text-from-webpages that is really missing from Opera Mini.

Which MIDlet Manager are you using? You may be using the wrong one :D

Using TAO Intent, tried Jbed and it didn't work at all well with Opera Mini due to screen formatting and stability problems.

No interest in dodgy Java games and agree with Chucky Egg, it's just not the same having to stick a JVM on an MS handset, we want native .NET apps that are silky smooth, quick, functionally rich and well integrated. MS have spent the last 10 years tying IE ever closer to the OS, why can't they do the same with the smartphone? We shouldn't really have to install an alternative framework just to run a better browser.

And of course, the other argument is that we shouldn't *need* to install another browser in the first place and the blame for this lies squarely at MS. They've had plenty of time to give us a decent alternative and frankly, PIE is an utter embarassment compared to the likes of iPhone's Safari and the Nokia/SE alternatives.

Hats off to Opera Mini though, it does what it does very well, far more so than any other smartphone browser including Opera Mobile, but a native version would be nice to get round the niggly bits like text editing and limitations on character strings.

It pains me to say this ... but whilst that may be progress in the Windows Mobile world, it's positively archaic compared to how things work now in the iPhone world.

... it's the totally seemless integration of hardware, software and services that the iPhone delivers, that to my mind will probably all but kill off Windows mobile within 18 months, if not sooner.

Agree totally, no interest in buying an iPhone but it does everything so well and seamlessly that few could argue Windows Mobile is a strong competitor in the mainstream market.

Edited by Dark Horse
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Guest chucky.egg

I think the things you are comparing are different - a "content" update, and an version update.

That said, you are right in some ways. Even using AppToDate there is currently no automated, unattended process for looking for version updates.

The App Store indicator is an interesting example of "progress" though. To get your app into the Store don't you have to pay Apple 40% of your sales revenue? And the Apple "rules" say that apps should close after 5 minutes of being inactive.

To get the MS stamp of approval an app should not have an "Exit" option, but this is something users want and so developers include. This means they don't bother with the Certified For... and develop and release through channels of their choice.

When iPhone development has matured will the same thing happen? I think it likely/inevitable that the nice, clean and tidy situation today will be watered down over time. Then the App Store indicator becomes only a partial solution.

I must admit to having an irrational dislike for the iPhone. I've used one, and really liked the ease of use. I wasn't sold on the UI (too little information on each screen), but I could probably live with it if I had to. The fact is though, that (because of the hype) I can't imagine ever buying one. I'm not a WM fanboy, I'm looking at Symbian for my next device, but the iPhone does nothing positive for/to me.

All that aside, by starting from a blank sheet of paper (but with the hindsight of many years of other smartphone developments), Apple have leap-frogged over WM in many respects.

I'm not convinced MS care enough about the platform to turn things around. Producing a mobile version of a browser known to be "problematic", years after it's sell by date, doesn't inspire me - and this is just one aspect of the platform.

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Guest jimbouk

IMHO the actual differences between the devices are not as important as the fact that 1) Iphone's have made smartphone's cool. 2) Some people want simple with no customisation and others want to tweak and play, 3) The good news is that everyone can copy everyone else and we will see some wonderful devices in the future.

I am really happy with my diamond but I know that my best mate is equally happy with his iphone and that neither of us want the others device.

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