Is a Boycott of IE Mobile Brewing?

"Until the Windows Mobile team gets their act together and at the very least makes IE6 Mobile a downloadable upgrade for all existing WM6 phones, I’m switching browsers to Opera Mobile. IE has been banished from my phone," so declared Microsoft mostly fanboy and blogger Robert McLaws on his Windows Now blog today. "Microsoft may be content to let Mozilla and Apple kick their butt in the mobile space, but that doesn’t mean that I have to be caught in the middle."

While the Windows Mobile world awaits on the many rumored announcements expected to take place at CES, McLaws has had enough of Microsoft's stalling. He's whipped out the Microsoft roadmap and noted that its been about four years of waiting on Microsoft to step up and compete with a proper mobile Web browser ("Screw multimedia features, i just want a better renderer, mmkay?" he says). A year ago, Microsoft was talking about Windows Mobile 7, then did an about face and in November let the world know that it would be Internet Explorer Mobile 6 released as the so-called next generation browser for Windows Mobile -- which will be Windows Mobile 6.1.4. And despite the fact that the IE team is on version 7 and working on version 8 (another painful story of delays causing frustration in the Web development community), IE Mobile 6 will still only (eventually, sometime in 2009) be available for new devices, the story goes.

Developers balked in response to a blog from the Windows Mobile Team who triumphantly introduced an emulator to let developers test their code against the new-but-based-on-an-ancient-engine mobile browser. Said one,

"I don't want to sound harsh, but bringing the engine of Internet Explorer 6 back from 2001 doesn't seem like a good deal to me. It's much better than what we have now, sure, but it pales in comparison with Opera 9.5 (available now on many HTC devices and Sony Xperia). It doesn't make much sense to me asking developers to download this engine and test their current 2008-2009 code against a 2001 browser and bringing back the problems we had with it."

Apparently, McLaws agrees. So do reviewers of IE 6 at the Pocket Internet Explorer blog. In a review posted December 19, the reviewer concluded:

"IE 6 Mobile still needs work, but is on the right track to be a good replacement for the aged PIE. It has support for Flash and AJAX, plus has a much improved rendering engine. If you want a better browser now, we recommend Skyfire (fastest, works with touchscreen and non-touchscreen devices) or Opera Mobile 9.5 (excellent page rendering but slower, touchscreen devices only). Both are free."

Ironically, a year ago, Opera launched a lawsuit against Microsoft for antitrust violations for bundling IE with Windows. But with power users bailing on IE Mobile in favor of Opera's mobile browser, Microsoft may be doing the marketing work for its competition after all.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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