IE9 Mobile vs IE9 Desktop Browser

Contributing Editor

Mobile HTML5 development is becoming increasingly important — especially now Abobe has stopped developing Flash for the devices. Apple and Android mobiles offer webkit and Opera-powered browsers; testing in the desktop editions can help you fix the majority of issues.

But what about Windows Phone 7? The new OS is receiving positive reviews and new devices from Nokia, LG, HTC and Samsung have been launched. Fortunately for developers, the mobile web browser is a direct port of the desktop version of IE9. There are, however, a number of minor differences which could catch you out…

Features Added to IE9 Mobile

The following features appear in IE9 on mobile devices but not on the desktop equivalent:

  1. GPS support. HTML5 geolocation will use the phone’s GPS system if it’s available. The desktop edition resorts to IP look-ups and other less-accurate methods.
  2. Support for the viewport tag, e.g.
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width">

    Note however that the minimum-scale, maximum-scale, and initial-scale properties are not currently supported.

  3. Support for –ms-text-size-adjust (auto | none | percentage). This adjusts the text size for mobile devices, e.g. –ms-text-size-adjust: 50%; makes it half size.

Features Removed from IE9 Mobile

The following features appear in the desktop edition of IE9 but not on mobile devices:

  1. Downloadable fonts. Font-face is still supported but the mobile browser will not download the files. Refer to the Windows Phone 7 supported font list.
  2. Cross-window communication — scripts cannot target a browser window.
  3. CMYK images (does anyone use these?)
  4. Multi-stream HTML5 audio.
  5. JIT support in JavaScript (which should only affect performance rather than functionality).

Microsoft has also removed:

  • VBScript
  • ActiveX
  • VML
  • compatibility view

To be honest, I’d be happy if these disappeared from the desktop edition! I’m sure it’s just a matter of time…

Overall, the mobile edition of IE9 is looking very good. In fact, it’ll be easier to develop for mobile Windows than the multiple desktop editions!

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  • IM0001

    One thing that bugs me with Mobile IE9 is the control it sometimes pulls over the view of a webpage. Sometimes a page is wider than the screen, zoomed all the way out, so I need to swipe it left to see whats on the right, and the screen will rubberband back to the left. It acts like a tug of war game to let me see what’s on the right and no manner of prodding or swiping will let me do it. This requires either viewing the mobile version of a site, or avoiding the site altogether. It doesn’t happen too often, but it is common enough to be the one annoyance I do run into with IE9M. Asside from that, the browser continues to be fast, stable, reliable, and renders oh 95% of pages without issue.

  • cynthia

    Yes. I have this happen to me on reddit and on the ad overlay on xda developers website.

  • http://grantpalin.com Grant Palin

    You missed BlackBerry in your second sentence. OS 6/7 devices run a current browser based on webkit. The browser on earlier devices is horrid, true. However, Opera Mini is an option on all of them!

  • Kise S.

    you know when you cant beat them “Webkit, gecko engines” join them, I am all for diversity of engines but if you are developing something which is worse then the alternative you would only create chaos they should have learned from IE6 mistake

    I also think the rendering engine should be independent of the browser so that they can update it regularly without having to update the system or the browser it self

    yeah it might limit the new additions, but we wont have people still running IE6 10 years on..

  • Zero

    Webkit is awful!!! Too many rendering issues.