The Mobile Web and Windows Phone 7

What is the Mobile Web?

A recent blog entry of Rob Tiffany’s points out what the mobile web is, and equally important, what it isn’t. Here’s Rob’s example of the mobile web, as seen on Windows Phone:

mobile web

As the name “mobile web” implies, what we see here is a web page formatted for mobile devices. Consider the alternative: the traditional web site, designed with desktop computers in mind, as seen on the Phone:

not mobile web

Rob says that having web pages that can switch to mobile-friendly mode is important because:

  • The mobile web is growing rapidly. It’s growing faster than the desktop web did in the 1990s and the number of mobile websites has grown twentyfold since 2008.
  • The mobile browser is the most-used app on most phones. It accounts for 13% of user face time and 50% of all phone data traffic.

Rob also believes that access to phone features will be made available to the HTML5/CSS/JavaScript troika by 2013, meaning that web-based phone apps will have functionality rivalling those of native apps:

  • Access to GPS in 2010
  • Access to the camera and accelerometer in 2011
  • Access to the user’s calendar, contacts and SMS in 2012
  • Access to files in 2013

For more, check out Rob’s article on the mobile web, where he covers a wide array of topics:

  • How intertwined the mobile web and shopping are (quite true for me; I’m always checking reviews and recommendations on my phone when I’m in brick-and-mortar stores)
  • Markup differences between the mobile and desktop web
  • User experience considerations for mobile sites
  • Building sites that adapt to desktop or mobile browsers
  • Optimizations
  • What he likes best about the mobile web

What About the Mobile Web on Windows Phone?

I often refer to the browser currently on Windows Phone as “IE 7.5” – it’s basically IE7 with some IE8 features included. It’s a decent, functional browser that I’ve been making very good use of (especially since I’ve been on the road a lot in the past few months), but it’s no IE9.

Luckily, that state of affairs won’t last for too much longer. There’s a team hard at work bringing IE9 to the Phone, and for the first time, the desktop and mobile versions of IE are built on the same codebase. The upcoming IE for Windows Phone will have IE9 desktop’s standard compliance, and as you can see in the video above (featuring Joe Belfiore presenting WP7 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago), it’ll also have IE9’s hardware acceleration.

You’ll see more about IE9, the mobile web and other goodies at MIX11 in just over a month. There’s great tech afoot!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


The New Windows Phone Ad: “What If?”

There’s a new Windows Phone 7 ad titled What If? running in the US for AT&T. It features the Samsung Focus, which is offered by Rogers here in Canada. It’s a nice ad with a lot of flash, but even more important is that it shows the Windows Phone UI in action.

Here’s what the voice-over says:

What if the best-looking phone in the room also had brains? And let you watch your favourite movies? Find the best restaurants? Play Xbox Live? And keep up with your friends? If it had that, and this, shouldn’t you have one?

Yes, you should. Get the only phone with Office, Xbox live and thousands of apps. Get a Windows Phone for only ninety-nine ninety-nine at AT&T.

In case you were wondering what the background music was, it’s Infinity Guitars by Sleigh Bells, off their album Treats (which is on heavy rotation at my home office).

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection and The Great Canadian Apportunity.


At the 2011 MVP Global Summit

Microsoft MVPs and the Summit

jet wing

“Look at this crowd,” I said, pointing to the people boarding Air Canada 541 late Sunday afternoon, the daily direct Toronto-to-Seattle flight. “Ogio bags with Microsoft branding, laptops with Windows stickers, Windows Phones and more Zunes than I’ve ever seen in the wild. This flight’s mostly MVPs and a few employees.”

microsoft mvp logoMVPs are Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals. The title of MVP is an award given by Microsoft to non-Microsofties who voluntarily share their expertise with some Microsoft tool or technology with others and whose contributions help build communities around that tool or technology. MVPs are the sorts of people who start user groups, help out in forums (whether they’re Microsoft’s or independent ones like Stack Overflow), write blogs or books, speak at conferences, and generally do things to promote and spread the know-how of some Microsoft product. Microsoft awards MVP status to these extra-keen contributors twice a year, and it’s awarded based on their activities through the past year. MVPs get lots of perks from Microsoft, including the event I’m at this week: the 2011 MVP Global Summit.

MVP Global Summits are annual gatherings where MVPs from around the world come to Microsoft to be thanked for their hard work, see “deep dive” presentations covering the tools and technologies in which they specialize (including sessions on upcoming stuff that the world at large doesn’t know about yet), meet with people on the product teams and other MVPs, and ask questions, make comments and provide feedback on the product for which they are experts.

As I write this, I’m sitting at an MVP Global Summit session at the taking place at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond with a couple of Canadian MVPs: Mark Arteaga of Toronto-based RedBit Development, who is a Windows Phone MVP and Silverlight MVP Louis-Philippe Pinsonneault of RunAtServer in Montreal. We’re in the middle of an afternoon of sessions on Windows Phone:

Mark Arteaga and Louis-Philippe Pinsonneault sitting at a session at the MVP Summit

Could You be an MVP?

In my role as a Microsoft Developer Evangelist, I think of MVPs as my primary “go-to” people for real-world experience and knowledge of various tools and technologies. I call on MVPs for all sorts of things, ranging from answers to questions to speaking at events to referring potential customers to them. Having MVP status means that you’ve got a closer relationship with Microsoft, which brings all sorts of benefits, opportunities and connections. If you’re the sort of developer who also likes getting involved with knowledge sharing and community building and go above and beyond what other people do, you might be a good MVP candidate.

Here’s a quick summary of the MVP nomination process, lifted straight off the MVP site:

To receive the Microsoft MVP Award, MVP nominees undergo a rigorous review process. A panel that includes members of the MVP team and Microsoft product groups evaluates each nominee’s technical expertise and voluntary community contributions for the past 12 months. The panel considers the quality, quantity, and level of impact of the MVP nominee’s contributions. Active MVPs receive the same level of scrutiny as other new candidates each year.

Do You Know a Potential MVP?

If you know someone who should be an MVP – someone who contributes to Microsoft-y social/technical communities, consistently demonstrates outstanding community leadership and freely shares deep technical knowledge — you should nominate him or her! This page explains how.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.