Peter VanRysdam / Digital Marketing / March 17th, 2008

Microsoft Window Mobile to Support Flash – How Unmonopolistic of You!

I’m sure the EU will still find something wrong with this, but it an unselfish/good for the public move, Microsoft announced today that they’ll support Flash Lite in Windows Mobile.  The move will take mobile Internet browsing one step closer to the rich PC experience (and subsequently one step further from blah text-only mobile sites).

Here’s an excerpt from the article on Cnet

Microsoft to license Adobe’s Flash Lite
Posted by Tom Krazit

Even though it has plans to release a competing technology, Microsoft has agreed to license Adobe’s Flash Lite technology for its Windows Mobile operating system and browser.

The two companies early on Monday announced that Microsoft has signed a license to use Flash Lite and Reader LE in future Windows Mobile handsets as plug-ins for Internet Explorer Mobile. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, such as what the companies plan to do when Microsoft releases Silverlight for Mobile, a competing technology.

Flash Lite is a stripped-down version of the ubiquitous Flash video player that allows mobile handsets to view Web sites created with the Flash technology. Think of Flash Lite as a slightly older version of Flash; the most current version of Flash Lite can’t properly display Web sites created with the newest version of Flash, Flash 9, but it works with sites created using older versions of the technology.

As smartphones become more and more common, people are starting to get fed up with the basic Web surfing experience offered by many phones. They want something that looks more like a PC experience, with rich graphics and video. But that’s hard to duplicate on a device with a smaller screen, less memory, a slower processor, and battery life requirements.

Enter Flash Lite. “Past technologies have failed trying to get into mobile by cramming a desktop experience into a mobile device,” said Anup Murarka, director of technical marketing for mobile and devices at Adobe. “The technology has to bend to the use cases, rather than the use cases bending to the technology.”

Microsoft’s Derek Snyder agreed. “One of the hallmark experiences on any smartphone is the Web browsing experience,” said Snyder, a product manager with Microsoft’s mobile-communications business. Strengthening that experience, as well as adding support for PDF documents through the Reader LE license, was the motivation for Microsoft to make the deal, he said.

If you read on on their site, they made the statement, “Microsoft is fighting an uphill battle, though, in trying to get Web developers to build sites using its technology as opposed to Adobe’s.” 

After attending the MIX conference earlier this month, I have to disagree.  Microsoft is making an enormous effort to seek out the developer’s needs in order to create a product that is better for the designer.  And with the built in .NET compatibility, it’s a no-brainer for a company like ours that develops on that platform anyhow.  We’re certainly not alone on that front either.

Regardless, hats off to Microsoft for opening up Flash to the mobile world.