Friday, 27 August 2010

Phone 7 browser is a major weakness

I spent several hours this week investigating Windows Phone 7 and overall I was very impressed but for some major issues I have with the browser.

I was very impressed with the user interface; it is simple, clean and had very nice transitions user interface tweaks. Also the development environment is very well thought out; the screen design is defined in XML and C# runs behind it, all very smooth and developer friendly.

To start with the browser also seemed to perform well. This video does a comparison of the browser with iPhone and Android and in the video it does well. However, the video is comparing desktop sites between the 3 devices and not mobile sites. When I tried some of my highly functional javascript/CSS driven webapps which run well on iPhone, Bada and Android, they totally failed to run on Phone 7; totally! I think Microsoft have fallen into a trap of thinking IE dominates in some way on mobile. It's true that on the desktop IE is still a major player and anyone producing a desktop site has to ensure it works with IE (even though desktop share has now fallen to 45%). However, as a mobile developer, developing mobile highly functional webapps, I will test only on all webkit phones. That is I will test on iPhone, Android, Samsung Bada, Nokia S60 and the new RIM OS6 phones; that's all top end phones except Phone 7. Why, because they are all webkit and the differences between them are manageable; the difference to proprietary IE are too large for me currently. I will ensure IE and all other non webkit handsets get a lower functional site with less chances of errors.

It's a bit of a shame, the browser is good and runs well its just the webkit directives I use so much do not work. I read today Microsoft are investing $400M on developers to ensure at launch there are lots of apps and games supported. Microsoft you should think about spending a small amount on browser compatability with webkit; it's only a small number of things you have to add/change; I could give you a list if you asked me... but it is really important that it is compatible with the rest of the industry.

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