Microsoft Unveils Mobile Browser With Zoom-In Feature

Deepfish was introduced in preview this week at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego.
Microsoft has launched a technology preview of a mobile browser that tries to deliver a desktop-like view of Web pages.

The company introduced Deepfish this week at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego as a limited technology preview. The software is available by invitation only to a small number of beta users.

Developed by Microsoft Live Labs, the browser has a zoom in/out feature that makes it different than similar software used on phones today. Rather than offering a reformatted version of a Web page, Deepfish captures and delivers the full layout in an as-designed view. Using the software's joystick, the user can navigate through a page and zoom in and out of portions. The browser doesn't support Web sites with Ajax, animation, Javascript, cookies, or ActiveX controls.

Web sites today are often rewritten for phones, which leads to boring pages absent of the original design. In general, however, developers and designers don't provide phone friendly versions of pages unless there's a compelling business need.

To make more content available via phones, makers of current browsers reformat pages to fit the phone's small screen, often making the pages difficult to read. Microsoft Live Labs believes it's on the right track toward solving these problems with Deepfish's zoom feature, Gary William Flake, founder and director of the labs said in a Q&A published on Microsoft's Web site.

Deepfish is currently a prototype technology, and Microsoft hasn't said when, or if, it would be made widely available.

Wireless carriers would welcome any technology that would increase the use of data servers. The average revenue per user for voice services in 2006 fell by an average of 5% for the 13 global carriers tracked by iSuppli. Collectively, the carriers represent more than 1 billion subscribers.

ISuppli predicts average revenue per user will continue to decline this year and in the future. Seeing the same trend, carriers are turning to music, video, gaming, and other data services to try to offset the losses. Revenue from premium multimedia content, which includes audio, video, and games, rose 22% globally last year to $16.4 billion, the research firm said.