New Handsets Needed for Microsoft's Mobile IE6

Microsoft faces a tough sell with its latest mobile browser, Internet Explorer 6, since consumers will need to buy more powerful handsets to run it.

Microsoft, which announced plans earlier this week to launch IE6 with market leader China Mobile, has made no secret of the more stringent requirements. It has indicated the software won't be available to download.

The browser requires 500MHz chip processing speeds, according to Lena Goh, director of marketing in Microsoft's mobile communications business for Asia.

"It will only be available in new handsets," she added.

Having to buy a new smartphone just to enjoy the benefits of mobile IE6 may put people off considering there are many choices for mobile Web browsers, including the popular Opera Mini and Skyfire.

The initial launch of the browser will be on a Samsung Omnia i900 made for China Mobile. The Chinese mobile network operator, the world's largest with more than 436 million subscribers, has been offering new smartphones along with the rollout of its 3G network in China.

Microsoft is launching mobile IE6 with China Mobile in hopes of capturing more first-time users in emerging markets, said Scott Rockfeld, director of Microsoft's mobile communications business.

Among the improvements in IE6, the mobile browser will allow people to complete transactions more easily than before and offer users the choice to automatically revert Web site searches to mobile optimized Web sites or full Web sites.

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