A First Look at Windows Phone 7’s Web Browser
- The History of Internet Explorer Mobile
- The Windows Phone 7 Browser
- Page Readability
- Tabbed Browsing
- Smart Address Bar
As you would probably expect from a Microsoft MVP, I have been using Windows Mobile devices for a very long time. Although I have a certain fondness for such devices, I have to say that the Web browsers that have been included with previous Windows Mobile operating systems have left a lot to be desired.
Thankfully, Microsoft has made tremendous improvements to the mobile version of Internet Explorer in Windows Phone 7.
The History of Internet Explorer Mobile
Windows Mobile and Windows CE (which was a primitive version of Windows Mobile) have included a mobile version of Internet Explorer for as long as I can remember.
Since this article focuses on Windows Phone 7, though, I want to take a quick look back at Windows Mobile 6 so that you can appreciate how Internet Explorer Mobile has changed.
As you can see in Figure A, Internet Explorer was very bare bones in Windows Mobile 6.1. The browser included a Favorites list and it gave you the ability to send a link to someone, but those were really about the only features that the browser offered.
Figure A Internet Explorer was very basic in Windows Mobile 6.1.
I have used Windows Mobile 6.1 in the real world for a number of years, and I can tell you that I never quite knew what to expect when I opened a Web page. Sometimes pages wouldn't display at all. Other times a page would display, but the text would be too small to read. Often though, the browser would scatter the various page elements all over the screen, making it difficult to even navigate the page.
Microsoft made some solid improvements to Internet Explorer in Windows Mobile 6.5, which you can see in Figure B. Notice the icon that appears in the lower-right portion of the screen. Tapping this icon provides you with access to the address bar and to a few other icons including your Favorites list, a history list, an onscreen keyboard, and a very welcome zoom control.
Figure B Internet Explorer improved in Windows Mobile 6.5, but was still somewhat lacking.
Although the Windows Mobile 6.5 browser was a tremendous improvement over what was included with Windows Mobile 6.1, it still left a lot to be desired. The browser was slow, and pages often refused to display correctly.