Windows Phone 7 browser is based on Internet Explorer 7

Microsoft will ship a mobile version of Internet Explorer 7 inside Windows Phone 7 when devices ship later this year.

The mobile version, yet to be named, is a version between Internet Explorer 7 and 8 according to Microsoft corporate vice president Joe Belfiore. Speaking at MIX 2010 today Belfiore explained that the mobile browser takes HTML rendering code from Internet Explorer 7 which is optimized for low memory situations. Belfiore explained that some features have been back ported from Internet Explorer 8 and joked Microsoft could end up naming it Internet Explorer 7.5.

At present the browser within Windows Phone 7 identifies itself with the following user agent string: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows Phone OS 7.0; Trident/3.1; IEMobile/7.0). Microsoft's Zune HD device on the other hand runs on IE6: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows CE; IEMobile 6.12; Microsoft ZuneHD 4.3). 

Microsoft is expected to announce its plans for Internet Explorer 9 on Tuesday at MIX 2010. According to sources familiar with the situation, Microsoft will release a developer preview of Internet Explorer 9.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

MIX 2010: Introduction to Windows Phone 7 Series, new info and videos

Next Story

Windows Phone 7: Phone calls, texting, games, and syncing

40 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I did some tests yesterday of what exactly IEMobile 7.0 is: it's a trident 3.1 layout engine (same that IE7 has) and crippled jscript 5.8 (taken from IE8 and cut in pieces). More details here http://sharovatov.wordpress.co...rnet-explorer-iemobile-7-0/

Fortunately, Microsoft says there will be Windows-update like service on Windows Phone 7, so maybe IEMobile will be updated to IE8 at least or - even better - to IE9 as soon as it's shipped. IE9 has directx acceleration, Windows Phone 7 has directx acceleration, and IE9 is much faster than IE8; so it seems to be a natural step forward for Windows Phone 7 to have IE9 built in when it's shipped.

Vitaly Sharovatov said,
I did some tests yesterday of what exactly IEMobile 7.0 is: it's a trident 3.1 layout engine (same that IE7 has) and crippled jscript 5.8 (taken from IE8 and cut in pieces). More details here http://sharovatov.wordpress.co...rnet-explorer-iemobile-7-0/

Fortunately, Microsoft says there will be Windows-update like service on Windows Phone 7, so maybe IEMobile will be updated to IE8 at least or - even better - to IE9 as soon as it's shipped. IE9 has directx acceleration, Windows Phone 7 has directx acceleration, and IE9 is much faster than IE8; so it seems to be a natural step forward for Windows Phone 7 to have IE9 built in when it's shipped.

You've used IE 9?

Please remember INITIAL RELEASE with be the hybrid 7.5 browser.

Even the Zune HD Browser changed significantly from the release version in terms of compatibility and performance, so there is no reason to expect MS to not update the WM7 browser as well.

Additionally, we really don't know the exact standards it will support nor the performance, as they said many IE8 features are backported to the original mobile IE7 base code, and this could be not only performance but IE8's standards compliance.

IE9 isn't even out for the PC yet, so expecting a successful deployment and porting of the code to the mobile device at the same time is unrealistic, especially if they want to meet the shipping deadlines and at least provide a web browsing experience comperable to what people expect.

Even the iPhone browser has its shortcomings and Mobile Opera can't pull off full desktop features, so I'm surprised people are shocked MS's Mobile IE wouldn't have to make sacrifices as well. (Right now the IE6 variant of the ZuneHD browser is better than the iPhone browser, and the iPhone browser should be in theory lightyears ahead, and it isn't.)

So if I go to a site that hands me off an ActiveX, will it support it? At least it's a step up from Pocket Internet Explorer or whatever that was...

crazyfish said,
So if I go to a site that hands me off an ActiveX, will it support it? At least it's a step up from Pocket Internet Explorer or whatever that was...

activex controls have been supported for years on windows mobile.

however, they are not binary compatible with win32 x86 activex controls. And there is no deployment mechanism from within pocket IE.

And since WP7 doesn't allow third party native code anymore and that applications are sandboxed, there is no way to develop activex controls anymore.

Blasius said,
And they were doing so well too... only to screw it up with an outdated browser.

Outdated how? Yes, IE7 dosn't support HTML5, but it's not nearly as bad as IEM previous branches... I'd put this firmly ahead of safari mobil, which despite all it's praise, still has a crap interface and real world usability.

AgentGray said,

Outdated how? Yes, IE7 dosn't support HTML5, but it's not nearly as bad as IEM previous branches... I'd put this firmly ahead of safari mobil, which despite all it's praise, still has a crap interface and real world usability.


Crap interface aside at least it can render majority of the current basic web correctly(bar flash content) and is usable and fairly speedy.

More then anything this is just serving up opera mobile browser market more then anything probably which isn't good on an unreleased platform in the works.

Blasius said,
And they were doing so well too... only to screw it up with an outdated browser.

Outdated? They're developing it as we speak... LOL Doesn't get fresher than that.

As for Opera, I'm looking forward to seeing what they do for WP7... With the Silverlight development requirement, I wonder how feasible a browser replacement would be...

This is an awful idea. Probably the best part about having my iPhone is the WebKit powered Safari sitting on it. It's fast and loads just about anything.

Why not port IE 8 directly to the phone? At the least. IE 9 supposedly supports GPU rendering, and likely supports DirectX 9, so why not put IE 9 onto the device? I guess we'll find out tomorrow, but I was under the impression that IE 9 was due out this year, which means that it should be internally accessible to the WP7 mobile browsing team.

Come on Microsoft, after knocking everything else out of the park: do not cripple the phone with the slowest browser on the market that supports the least standards. That's really not going to lead to glowing praise.

I guess the only positive is that it can hopefully be updated to IE 9 once it's finished for the PC.

pickypg said,

Why not port IE 8 directly to the phone?

just read the article


Belfiore explained that the mobile browser takes HTML rendering code from Internet Explorer 7 which is optimized for low memory situations.


At the least. IE 9 supposedly supports GPU rendering, and likely supports DirectX 9, so why not put IE 9 onto the device? I guess we'll find out tomorrow, but I was under the impression that IE 9 was due out this year, which means that it should be internally accessible to the WP7 mobile browsing team.

as GP007 said just above, IE9 is still a work in progress...

anyway, GPU acceleration on IE9 is based on direct2d and directwrite, APIs that are not available for windows CE. Thus, IE9 won't bring huge benefits.

since webmasters are still going to support IE7 for years anyway, using the IE7 engine is not a problem, if MS thinks they are able to make it perform better than a IE8 based engine.

link8506 said,
just read the article

I did read the article. Even with that, no other mobile browser is hurting in the exact same situations. I also already mentioned that IE 9 is not done.

Take for example the iPhone: the original iPhone and iPhone 3G only have 128 MB of RAM, and the browser is more than usable, and it renders extremely quickly by comparison to IE x. Then, we have the iPhone 3GS, which has 256 MB of RAM (identical to the WP7 hardware specs), and it performs just as well as a Netbook rendering pages, if not better. Now, one thing they will hopefully support, which Mobile Safari does not, is the ability to do an inline search, like the one done in the Excel spreadsheet in one of the demos.

Who cares that Direct2D and DirectWrite were not available in older code bases? They have the chance to redo the entire OS; they should have thrown in support for Direct2D on top of their DirectX support, if they didn't (I suspect that they may have due to the strong XNA 4.0 push).

Regardless of it if's an alpha rendering engine or not, it should have been included, or at least not mentioned as not being included. To suggest that IE7 or some merger between it and IE8 represent the best of their mobile browsing effort is going to leave a huge stench surrounding the device.

I realize my last post probably made it look like I am in love with my iPhone, but if you've read my other posts, I am looking for an excuse to jump onto the WP7 bandwagon and off of the iPhone train, even though I still have over a year left on my contract. Apple has become quite proud of themselves at the expense of everyone else, including their customers. I'd rather go to a company that openly appreciates its developers (Microsoft), and gives them the tools to succeed, unlike the XCode dump.

pickypg said,

Take for example the iPhone: the original iPhone and iPhone 3G only have 128 MB of RAM, and the browser is more than usable, and it renders extremely quickly by comparison to IE x.

pocket IE6 (on wm6.5) always run on less than 32 mb of memory, even when loading very complex pages. I think it caches less data because of the WinCE5 32mb limit, thus it must recalculate parts of the page more often, which uses more CPU and makes browsing slower.
with WP7, there is no more memory size constraint, so I suppose pocket IE7 will be more efficient, while still not being a memory hungry monster.

Who cares that Direct2D and DirectWrite were not available in older code bases? They have the chance to redo the entire OS; they should have thrown in support for Direct2D on top of their DirectX support, if they didn't (I suspect that they may have due to the strong XNA 4.0 push).

actually I'm pretty surprised to read about directx9 on some slides, since I heard from a microsoft employee that internally, Zune HD and WP7 are using Open GL ES 2.0, and that Direct 3D mobile has been deprecated.

And even if WP7 supported DX9, directwrite and direct2d work above the directx10 architecture. That would not be simple if even possible to port them to Windows CE.

Porting a GPU accelerated version of silverlight to windows CE has taken a very long time, so this is not going to happen anytime soon...


Regardless of it if's an alpha rendering engine or not, it should have been included,

impossible!
nobody wants a new IE6 with buggy html5 support. Beta testing is very important to eliminate as much bugs as possible, to make IE9 as standard compliant as possible. It would be very bad to have to target a beta version of IE9 along with the final version of IE9 for desktop!

pickypg said,

I did read the article. Even with that, no other mobile browser is hurting in the exact same situations. I also already mentioned that IE 9 is not done.

Take for example the iPhone: the original iPhone and iPhone 3G only have 128 MB of RAM, and the browser is more than usable, and it renders extremely quickly by comparison to IE x. Then, we have the iPhone 3GS, which has 256 MB of RAM (identical to the WP7 hardware specs), and it performs just as well as a Netbook rendering pages, if not better. Now, one thing they will hopefully support, which Mobile Safari does not, is the ability to do an inline search, like the one done in the Excel spreadsheet in one of the demos.

Who cares that Direct2D and DirectWrite were not available in older code bases? They have the chance to redo the entire OS; they should have thrown in support for Direct2D on top of their DirectX support, if they didn't (I suspect that they may have due to the strong XNA 4.0 push).

Regardless of it if's an alpha rendering engine or not, it should have been included, or at least not mentioned as not being included. To suggest that IE7 or some merger between it and IE8 represent the best of their mobile browsing effort is going to leave a huge stench surrounding the device.

I realize my last post probably made it look like I am in love with my iPhone, but if you've read my other posts, I am looking for an excuse to jump onto the WP7 bandwagon and off of the iPhone train, even though I still have over a year left on my contract. Apple has become quite proud of themselves at the expense of everyone else, including their customers. I'd rather go to a company that openly appreciates its developers (Microsoft), and gives them the tools to succeed, unlike the XCode dump.

also if you read the article things from ie 8 will be backported to wm7. So it will have the best features of both. Plus you will most likely be able to get opera. Since its also basically the full ie we should be able to get full flash on wm7

bjoswald said,
I hope this doesn't open the floodgates to hackers.

IE code base is actually pretty secure. It has actually less flaws than some less popular browsers... so that should'nt be a problem

note that even the directx filters features from Internet Explorer 4 are supported!
it works at least with shadow and light filters.

that's the first time a mobile version of IE will support these filters, that have been introduced 13 years ago...

I tried it on the emulator, IE runs pretty well. Since IE on Zune HD was pretty fast, I suppose the WP7 version of IE will be even better on a real device!

Examinus said,
Brilliant. What a wonderful decision.

Hope thats sarcasm. IE7 sucks. Although I'd be surprised if they built it off WebKit. One can dream.

Xero said,

Hope thats sarcasm. IE7 sucks. Although I'd be surprised if they built it off WebKit. One can dream.
Compared to IE6, IE7 is pretty good not as good as IE8. Of course if you want to use advanced CSS 2.1 or 3, IE7 won't work very well but for most websites IE7 works fine..

lol as per usual half ass browser which will not be universally in line with other devices web browsers and end up either not bother being supported at all or render poorly specially in the html5 area. gg microsoft act oblivious to learning nothing from desktop browser issue.

Digitalx said,
lol as per usual half ass browser which will not be universally in line with other devices web browsers and end up either not bother being supported at all or render poorly specially in the html5 area. gg microsoft act oblivious to learning nothing from desktop browser issue.

Hm... I see nowhere where all this information was released... Particularly since it's still a work in progress...

Me, I'm going to wait and see what the browser looks like before making wild assumptions...

Digitalx said,
lol as per usual half ass browser which will not be universally in line with other devices web browsers and end up either not bother being supported at all or render poorly specially in the html5 area. gg microsoft act oblivious to learning nothing from desktop browser issue.

The flaw in your thinking is that regular consumers give a damn about HTML5 apps in a mobile web browser.

Microsoft will ship a mobile version of Internet Explorer 7 inside Windows Phone 7 when devices ship later this year.

The mobile version, yet to be named, is a version between Internet Explorer 7 and 8 according to Microsoft corporate vice president Joe Belifore.

Contradict much lol?

Either way, Opera mobile beats IE by a long shot and hopefully should show up on the app store.

/- Razorfold said,

Contradict much lol?

Either way, Opera mobile beats IE by a long shot and hopefully should show up on the app store.


Not really, it's based on 7 but has some of the improvements from 8....so it's somewhere in between 7 and 8

Rudy said,

Not really, it's based on 7 but has some of the improvements from 8....so it's somewhere in between 7 and 8

There are no improvements where it counts though. If its based on IE7, the CSS support is going to be a dud, and the HTML/JavaScript speed even worse.

Majesticmerc said,

There are no improvements where it counts though. If its based on IE7, the CSS support is going to be a dud, and the HTML/JavaScript speed even worse.


The CSS support in IE7 is not bad compared to IE6 and for most common CSS selectors will work just fine..

statm1 said,

The CSS support in IE7 is not bad compared to IE6 and for most common CSS selectors will work just fine..

Designing with IE7 is plain hell, when a site works correctly in mozilla, but the layout is stuffed with ie7.

Edited by plasmarox, Mar 16 2010, 10:06pm :

This is the one area Im concerned WPS 7 will fall behind the pack. As much of an improvement IE has achieved in the last few releases, it still has a long way to go before it has the quick rendering that other browsers have polished over the last few months. Obviously I know it's pre-release videos but even watching them makes me think it still lags behind the iphone browser.

Time will tell, either way I can't wait for xmas!

empty said,
As much of an improvement IE has achieved in the last few releases, it still has a long way to go before it has the quick rendering that other browsers have polished over the last few months.

If you have the time to play with the settings like the stubborn security zones, caching, add-ons control, image rendering, also shrink it to one process (TabProcGrowth) so you can safely use the IE7Pro add-on for ad blocking, pre-resolving and other prefetch, plus apply few more tricks and Internet Explorer 8 works as fast as any other browser and, in all cases, faster than Firefox. Ofcource, you can't just leave a smelly pile of sh** and rely the End-user to fix Your mistakes along the way. Despite that, I remain a Trident fan and can't wait for Internet Explorer 9.

bluesea said,
let's see how that goes..

Yeah. Not a fan of IE, but this so far looks pretty decent... I really hope that it is a solid browsing experience, because it sounds like developing something like a browser for WP7 might be rather tricky...