IE on Windows Phone 7 lacks html5 features

By mOrPhie on Monday 2 August 2010 22:39 - Comments (18)
Categories: software engineering, techrelated, Views: 7.938

Windows Phone 7 will come out this October. Right now, developers have the opportunity to develop software and websites for it, using the Windows Phone 7 SDK beta. The SDK features a nice emulator, which includes their mobile version of Internet Explorer. That is great, because it will help us build mobile versions of our websites.

What worries me though is that this browser does not support any html5 feature currently used in many sites to make their sites compatible with iPhone, iPad and Android devices. For example, youtube offers a fully functional html5 version of their site for iPad and iPhone users. It features the video-tag, which the iPad and iPhone already support. The canvas tag, another html5-feature, is included in both the Android browser as in Safari for iPhone/iPad.

But what happens if we put IE for Windows Phone 7 to the test:

http://tweakers.net/ext/f/Cezy5YKVep9grTUqXy8wymcW/full.jpg

We get a whopping 12 points out of 300. That’s even less than the 27 points IE8 is getting on that test. Most of the popular html5 features seem unsupported in IE for WP7. The video-tag is not supported. The audio-tag is not supported. The canvas tag is not supported.

If we test video using the sublime video player, we get the following:

http://tweakers.net/ext/f/1nazG7Ue4Pqk8435ouBz8MCw/full.jpg

It says: “Html5 video mode not fully supported in your browser. Switching to flash…”. Of course, there is no flash support yet, but for now we are unsure whether WP7 will get flash support at all, since the app platform is, well, Silverlight.

I was hoping, as a side-step, the browser would support Silverlight video, but when you visit a webpage containing Silverlight video, the site asks you to install Silverlight. I am not sure if this is a Silverlight problem, a browser problem or a website that checks for Silverlight-support the wrong way. Either way, it won’t work:

http://tweakers.net/ext/f/ADlVA7XgKv6hBQZKHnJnLxlr/full.jpg

Let’s conclude. The iPhone supports the video and audio tag from HTML5. This helps with mobile browsing on many video-sites. Android 2.2 seems to support the video-tag, but users report that the support is quite minimal. Android, iPhone and iPad support the canvas tag. Android 2.2 has a lot of performance improvements for the canvas tag, which makes it impressively speedy. I don’t know about Opera mobile, but I know the desktop versions support video, audio and the canvas tag.

IE on the emulator of Windows Phone 7 lacks all popular HTML5 tags. With IE9 supporting many aspects of HTML5, one would expect that IE for WP7 would adopt the engine improvements. HTML5 is a big part of the mobile browsing space. Let’s hope Windows Phone 7 can live up to that expectation. But with even less points on html5test.com than IE8 is getting, I guess the browser is more or less an IE7 fork.

If rumors are true that the core of WP7 will be the core of the Windows tablets Microsoft is aggressively working and marketing on right now, then that doubles the expectation for HTML5 in the mobile browser.

I like that Microsoft will get on par with the mobile market with Windows Phone 7. I dislike the possibility that it will feature an HTML5-less browser in early versions. Microsoft could be ahead of both Android and iPhone by supporting more HTML5 features than them. That would be very nice.

No standards-based modern browser on Windows Phone 7: a real turnoff.