Widgets: Windows Mobile 6.5 joins the “web applications” bandwagon


Screenshot credit: www.wmpoweruser.com

In what might appear to be the perfect definition of irony, the iPhone’s first and hastily-forgotten application development platform built on top of simple web technologies – HTML, CSS and AJAX (Javascript) – is being newly introduced as “widgets” to Windows Mobile, a mobile operating system that embraced native third-party applications since day one.

WMPoweruser.com is reporting these “widgets”, predictably packaged as .widget files – a set of compressed HTML, CSS, Javascript and graphics files – can be launched from the Start menu to a chromeless version of Internet Explorer Mobile 6 with all of its upgraded AJAX-capability goodness. Some widgets that are already bundled in leaked builds of WM6.5 includes a Live Search widget, MSN Money stock widget and MSN Weather widget, and they don’t look half bad if not better than most Windows Mobile applications out there I might add.

Now, as backwards as this move might seem, I think Palm said it best when they announced the Pre and its new operating system webOS, “…there’s 10 million web developers out there…and every one of them can develop for this platform”. Don’t forget what was possible with web applications on the iPhone.

As a web developer myself, Windows Mobile 6.5 is building momentum to be a worthwhile release after all.

14 insightful thoughts

  1. Wonder how this will play out when Mesh-enabled-web-apps start to work on WinMob? Those are just CSS/JavaScript/HTML as well.
    Admittedly that won’t be for a while yet but then again, neither will WinMob6.5.

  2. It’s not really the power or potential of the device/platform that matters to consumers… It’s the user experience that matters most. The reason the iPhone makes people drool is because of its speed, responsiveness, graphical eyecandy, visual feedback (e.g., that little “bounce” when you reach the end and can’t scroll anymore) and intuitiveness of multitouch input.

    Windows Mobile is arguably the best platform for any portable computer, but if it doesn’t make strides in these same areas, it will not be as popular with consumers — and consequently, it may be less attractive to third-party developers.

    I hope Windows Mobile and Zune merge and bring Windows 7 visual goodness with it.

  3. @Alessandro – The iPhone also lacks multitasking as well. I suppose the average user doesn’t care about it when they purchase it, but is something thats very handy and could quite well be a dealbreaker for some who know what it is.

    Now what would be really good is Nokia and Google getting on board these webapps with Palm and Microsoft and creating a unified API so that they can be changed across different phones

  4. That’s great! I’m a big supporter of web apps over native apps. Pity you have to package it up as a “widget” file though, that’s pretty backwards. Just deliver them like normal websites MS!

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