Microsoft Discontinues Mobile Browser Project

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Microsoft this week stopped supporting Deepfish, its mobile browser research project that was an example of the company's software plus services strategy.

The Deepfish browser displayed Web pages on Windows Mobile phones just like they look on a PC and then let users zoom in and out of parts of the page they were interested in examining closer. The browser worked in conjunction with Microsoft servers that delivered the Web pages to the phones.

Microsoft first announced that it was working on the project in 2007 but started developing the browser the previous year. "Mobile browsing is now advancing to the point where mobile devices rival the desktop -- which is what we wanted to see," according to a blog post on the Live Labs site announcing that Microsoft was retiring the service.

Mobile browsing has indeed progressed. Slow mobile data rates once demanded that content providers develop custom sites that would load quickly for mobile users. While content providers continue to create such mobile specific sites, increasing mobile data rates allow a better browsing experience even for standard Web sites designed for the PC. Apple's iPhone browser, for example, has won praise for delivering standard Web sites in a very usable manner.

Other companies continue to develop new technologies to improve mobile browsing. Opera's Opera Mini, for example, employs servers to strip down the size of some Web sites for quicker loading on mobile phones.

Mozilla has also long experimented with mobile browsers and is developing a mobile version of Firefox called Fennec.

Microsoft didn't say how many people used Deepfish. However the blog post about its discontinuation was posted in mid-August but appears to have received little notice until a news site wrote about it recently, perhaps an indication that not many people were using it.

In the blog posting, Microsoft said that the feedback it received from people who tried Deepfish would influence future projects.

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