Windows Mobile Gets Widgets!

This article originally appeared in Canadian Developer Connection.

There’s been quite a bit of good news on the Windows Mobile front lately. First, there’s the considerably improved user interface coming with Windows 6.5, including the “hexagon” menu (the rationale for which is explained quite well by Long Zheng). There’s also the upcoming Mobile Incubation Week, where startups are invited to come down to The Empire’s Silicon Valley Campus and workshop Windows Mobile 6.5 apps.

There’s even more good news, as shown in the photo below:

Various Windows Mobile screens showing widgets in action

They’re widgets: little web applications that run within IE Mobile 6 with the “chrome” (that is, the standard browser controls) removed. They’re HTML/CSS/JavaScript-based web applications in the same spirit of the desktop/sidebar gadgets in Windows, Dashboard widgets in Mac OS, or web apps on the iPhone (which aren’t getting as much love now that native apps are all the rage).

This is a very important development for Windows Mobile. You don’t need Visual Studio Pro (as far as I can tell, the Pro edition is the lowest-level version of Visual Studio that supports mobile development) to make widgets for Windows phones; all you need is your favourite web development tool set. At long last, Windows Mobile development will be open to just about everybody, regardless of their platform.