Microsoft still isn’t quite ready to release its new mobile browser, but Ina Fried did get an advance look at Internet Explorer 6 for Windows Mobile at a Microsoft event. The biggest benefit will be the fact that it is the full IE 6 rendering engine, meaning that any page that renders properly in IE 6 on the PC should do just fine on Windows Mobile. Tim McDonough, a senior director in Microsoft’s Windows Mobile unit, showed me the browser running the standard MSN home page.
I saw the browser running on Windows Mobile Standard–meaning on a non-touch-screen device. The browser makes good use of a D-pad controller to go from link to link, but it’s still not as elegant as on a touch screen. Navigation may be better on the iPhone, but IE 6 will have some advantages, such as full Flash support.
“The market today is really at ‘Can I see a page?’ Very quickly we’re getting to ‘Can I do something?'” he said. “That’s where we will really shine.”
Another interesting option on IE 6 is the ability to quickly shift from a site’s mobile page to its standard desktop version. Just because IE 6 can show the full site, doesn’t mean that’s always what people want. It’s particularly true in Europe where even so-called “unlimited” data plans typically have data caps that can easily be reached by loading a lot of standard Web pages. IE 6 toggles between mobile and standard Web pages by sending a different user agent, depending on which page type a user wants to see.