Microsoft has officially announced Internet Explorer Mobile 6 – yes, the IE6 desktop experience in Windows Mobile is here for Windows Mobile 6.1. (The fabled ‘6 on 6’ lives!)
I have had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the new emulators and I’m very happy to see Microsoft bring IE Mobile 6 to market. Of course, I wish it had been done long ago. . .
What is available today? Emulators (WM 6.1.4 Professional and Standard) and documentation; download from http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=1A7A6B52-F89E-4354-84CE-5D19C204498A&displaylang=en Note that the PDF download is throwing a 404 at the time of this posting (0555 EST, 20081112). The PDF is now available, and I recommend pulling it down and giving it a read-through.
When can I get the bits on my WM device? Soon. . . stay tuned for details.
What devices will be supported? TBD (see above), but hardware requirements are 128MB RAM, 400MHz processor
What has changed? Lots!
- Support for full-fidelity desktop rendering via the IE6 rendering engine from the desktop
- What you see in IE6 on the desktop, you will see in IEM6 on the device.
- The user gets to choose what browsing experience they want.
- Layout fixes for the mobile screen (e.g. text wrap)
- Enhanced script and AJAX support (JScript 5.7 from IE8)
- Adobe Flash Lite 3.1 for Adobe Flash content (note: this will be optional for OEMs to include)
- Deeper search integration – address bar and homepage
- Improved UX
- Enhanced cursor navigation model
- Touch and gesture support / pan support
- Multiple zoom levels
- Mobile / Desktop view easily switchable
- NTLM authentication support
- I’m still gathering numbers but, it is definitely a good bit (25%+ ?) faster than current IE Mobile.
I will be referring to Internet Explorer Mobile 6 as IEM6 and Internet Explorer Mobile as IEM throughout the remainder of this post.
After installing both the WM Professional 6.1.4 an WM Standard 6.1.4 emulators, I open Visual Studio and launch the Device Emulator Manager (DEM) from the Tools menu. I now see [for WM 6.1 editions], a bevy of emulator options. You can also install these emulators standalone if you do not have Visual Studio installed. I have highlighted the 6.1.4 emulators for both Standard and Professional edition below:
For purposes of demonstration in this post, I will be working with (and using screen captures from) the WM 6.1.4 Professional Emulator and the WM 6.1.4 Standard Emulator and the WM 6.1 Professional Emulator and WM 6.1.4 Standard Emulator (for comparison).
Launching IEM6 on each of these presents the user with the new home screen. Note the search bar integration, cursor, and cleaner look to the home screen. (IEM6 on the left, IEM on the right)
If we bring up the menu on the WM Professional emulators, we see that the menu options have received increased spacing (much better for use with a finger). We also see that some of the items have been reordered (well done!).
If we select Home Page under Options, we see a much improved UI for setting the home page:
I am not going to drill through all of the option sub-menus, but I do want to call out a very important, and new, screen – Other. From the Tools > Options > Other screen, you are able to set the browsing experience of mobile or desktop (which determines the user-agent string sent by the browser, as we will see shortly), and select whether or not to show pictures and play sounds (the latter two items could be bandwidth and memory intensive for devices browsing with the desktop experience). Note that you are also able to make the browsing experience selection from Menu > View > Mobile | Desktop which makes for changing your browsing experience very convenient.
If we enter about:version into the address bar in our browser (Professional edition emulators shown, but it does work in Standard edition as well), we see the differences in how the browser presents itself (i.e. user-agent string). In the image below, from left to right, we have: IEM6 (Desktop Computer), IEM6 (Mobile Device), IEM
Notice the user-agent changes, developers:
IEM6, Desktop mode
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1)
IEM6, Device mode
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows CE; IEMobile 8.12; MSIEMobile 6.0)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows CE; IEMobile 7.11)
Here is eBay in IEM6 (left) and IEM (right). Note that with IEM, we get taken to m.ebay.com; however, with IEM6 set to Desktop mode, we are able to fully render the site (with IEM6 in Device mode, we get the condensed UI as well). Also in desktop mode, we are able to pan around and then zoom in to a desired area of the page.
Another example is http://speedtest.net , which uses Flash. Also note that I have Flash running full-screen in IEM6, which is an option if you hold down the cursor/stylus to get a context menu to select from. You return to non- full-screen the same way.
So far, I have taken a quick look at some of the new rendering and multimedia capabilities of Internet Explorer Mobile 6. In the next post I will spend more time examining the behavior on Standard edition devices, the cursor navigation model, search integration, NTLM support, and have some scripting fun.