Improving the mobile browser

choiceandflexibility

The latest set of announcements at PDC have focused on improving the end user and developer user experiences. Windows 7 is a continued evolution of the desktop user experience. Internet Explorer 8 is a web standards compliant browser.

There is a gaping hole in the browser on Windows Mobile. 

skyfire-betaWhy does a browser on mobile matter? Look at the Rogers market share this past quarter as a result of the iPhone. Is it phone bling? Definitely. But it is also a device that has a desktop class web browser.

Skyfire announced their open beta today. It boasts an impressive set of features including:

  • New Super Bar that combines search and URL entry into one bar
  • Skyfire can now be set as the default browser
  • New search bar on the Homescreen
  • New start page redesign
  • Faster start-up and page loading times
  • Share a link via SMS
  • Invite friends to download Skyfire via SMS
  • Save an image
  • Download files

And the best part is that Skyfire also supports Flash video on Windows Mobile. The web is the primary distribution channel for content, wether your on a mobile phone, a custom application or dedicated device. The richness of the experience can be improved (see LukeW’s summary of Mix07 Beyond the Browser). And it’s great to see a desktop class browsing experience come to Windows Mobile.

AWS to support Windows Server

aws_logo I am not sure how I missed this, Amazon EC2 to support Microsoft Windows Server, this looks like it is something else that attendees at PDC can expect.

The 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows Server will be available and will be able to use all existing EC2 features such as Elastic IP Addresses, Availability Zones, and the Elastic Block Store. You’ll be able to call any of the other Amazon Web Services from your application. You will, for example, be able to use the Amazon Simple Queue Service to glue cross-platform applications together.

Existing EC2 tools will be able to launch Windows-powered EC2 instances. Once launched, you can use the Windows Remote Desktop or the rdesktop tool to access your instances.

I fully expect to see this new level of flexibility used to create complex, highly scalable, heterogeneous EC2 applications using a mix of Linux, Solaris, and Windows instances, all on a pay-as-you-go basis.

I’ve been holding off on a Windows host mostly because I didn’t feel like any of the hosts offered me the flexibility of EC2, Joyent Accelerator, MediaTemple GS, Mosso, or others. Because I want to run emerging technologies on my system, it makes it really hard to just purchase a shared hosting account. And I’m not the guy that wants to host a Windows Server in his basement. I like having my Software+Services in the cloud (hosting is something that I’ve outsourced since the 90s, why change that opinion now).

I wonder if the pre-beta bits of Windows 7 will run on EC2?