Microsoft late Wednesday unveiled a mobile Web browser aimed at making surfing the Internet on wireless devices as convenient and feature-rich as browsing on a PC.
Code-named Deepfish, a preview of the technology is available from Microsoft’s Live Labs Web site. The company said it is available on a first-come, first-served basis, and will close access to Deepfish once downloads reach a certain, unspecified number.
Microsoft unveiled Deepfish at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego. Live Labs is Microsoft’s research division aimed at developing new Web-based services to help the company compete with Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc.
According to Microsoft, most mobile browsers available now use a single-column format that reformats existing pages by repositioning content to fit the limited screen size. This crushes the page to fit the screen and means users must do a lot of scrolling to use the portions of the page they want to reach, the company said. It also does not present the page the way it was originally designed, Microsoft said.
Deepfish aims to provide Web pages on mobile devices the way designers intended by providing functionality to zoom in and out of the part of the page that interests them, Microsoft said. The company would not disclose if or when it plans to release the browser as a commercial product, saying it is currently a prototype only.
Microsoft seems keenly interested in making the Web browsing experience on mobile devices more intuitive for users. Deepfish sounds similar to work of the latest company to be funded by Microsoft’s IP Ventures, Zen Zui. That company is using Microsoft-developed technology to provide a Web application that lets users zoom in on tiles that provide customized content for mobile devices.
Microsoft said mobility is an area of particular focus for the company, and it will continue to eye opportunities to innovate in this area.
A new mobile Web browser from Microsoft could potentially harm the company’s relationship with partner Opera Software ASA, which currently is providing its Opera Mobile browser on a host of devices running the Windows Mobile OS. Just Wednesday, Opera unveiled a beta of its next mobile browser for Windows Mobile, and noted several new Windows Mobile devices on which its browser runs.