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Microsoft tries accelerating mobile Web progress

Following its strategy for promoting IE9 for PCs, Microsoft has launched a Web site

IE9 logo

Apparently happy with its test drive effort to promote the combination of advanced Web programming and its new IE9 browser for Windows PCs, Microsoft is trying the same formula with its mobile browser.

The company unveiled its Mobile Test Drive site yesterday as a showcase for what can be done with mobile browsers.

"It's organized essentially the same way as the original, except laid out to be easily read and used on the mobile form factor," said Joe Marini, principal program manager for Internet Explorer on Windows Phone, in a blog post. "We've ported over some of the more popular samples from the full version of the IE Test Drive and have developed a few of our own mobile-specific ones too, including the demos that Joe Belfiore showed at MIX 11 earlier this year.

Web developers have no fondness for the elderly IE browser that ships with Microsoft's mobile operating system, but the Mango update to Windows Phone 7 will bring IE9.

"It's important to note that even though we use the same core rendering engines on both the desktop and mobile versions of IE and adhere to the concept of 'same markup' when we produce our samples, we felt that it was worth creating a mobile test drive site to illustrate how we approach some of the key issues that developers face when creating mobile-optimized content: screen sizes, device capabilities, etc.," Marini said.

"Same markup" refers to Microsoft's ideal that a Web developer should be able to write a single version of a Web page that will look the same in all browsers. Some IE rivals have carped that the company could have just used the phrase "Web standards," an area Microsoft largely ignored for several years.

But Microsoft is back in the browser game now, helping to craft, promote, and test those standards as well as try to build a browser with performance that matches or exceeds older rivals such as Safari and Firefox and the newest challenger, Google's Chrome.