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Microsoft previews Windows Mobile browser

Deepfish takes on Opera & Apple's Safari

The latest entry in the growing mobile browser wars is Deepfish. Microsoft has announced a technology preview of the new mobile browser, which is designed for delivery of content such as web pages to Windows Mobile devices.

The Microsoft Live Labs team said that the preview was available for download for Windows Mobile 5.0 and higher devices, with a limited number of slots available that will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

On its website, Microsoft Live Labs described Deepfish as a lightweight client application that leverages server-side technology to deliver content. That content is displayed "in a familiar desktop format that requires no additional work by the content or site author”.

Rumours and even video presentations on Deepfish surfaced last year. Deepfish would compete with Opera, a well-known mobile browser that runs on Windows Mobile and other systems. Deepfish also follows Microsoft’s own Minimo browser based on Mozilla technologies. In addition, Nokia has a WebKit-based browser that works on the Symbian OS, which analysts said Nokia is trying to expand to other systems.

Yahoo and Google are clearly going mobile with their content, which only accelerates interest in effective browser technology, industry commentator Om Malik said on his site, GigaOm.com.

In January, Mobility Today reviewer David Ciccone even compared a version of Deepfish he saw in December to Apple's iPhone Safari Mobile browser, saying the two look alike.

Microsoft Live Labs said that since Deepfish is only in technology preview mode, it is early in its development cycle and still a few releases away from beta quality. As a result, some features are not implemented, and it currently does not support ActiveX controls, Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, cookies, JavaScript and HTTP Post, Microsoft noted.

The Live Labs team described Deepfish as "aimed at preserving the rich layout and full form of documents on mobile devices while providing novel ways of effectively navigating that content on small screens."

For example, a user can zoom in and out of a page, quickly getting to certain areas without scrolling through long screens of information. Still, the layout is preserved, so navigation menus, lists of search results of news headlines and other element can be browsed simply, the team said. In other browsers, such material might have been "bent so thoroughly to fit the usual single column layout that they were no longer legible”, the Live Labs team wrote.


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