Windows Live Search for Mobile – on the relative merits of native code on the phone and desktop

December 1, 2006

Mike Torres likes it, so I gave it a try.  I agree – it’s awesome.  Much has been said about how pure web applications will never match the richness or usability of rich applications, especially on the desktop.  Outlook vs. web email clients are often used as an example of this.  In my experience though, the advantage of locally running applications is much stronger on phones than it is on desktop computers.  Local applications really shine where bandwidth is limited and round trip times are lengthy – where intelligent caching on the client works wonders.

Don’t count pure web applications out on the phone though.  On my old Audiovox SMT-5600, even the most pared down, text-only sites were very slow to load, and larger pages with complicated layouts were often completely unusable.  On my new EVDO equipped Motorola Q though, things are much, much better.  I bet that on the next generation of phones, the native code application advantage will diminish.

If everyone had a phone with a web browser even as good and fast as the one on the Q (or if there was a way to distribute a rich application to all phones without having to write 5 versions, obtain 5 test phones, beg 5 carriers to let their subscribers install it, etc.), the software landscape would look very different.  As it is now, hardly anyone I’ve talked to (outside of fellow software developers of course) has used the web browser on their phone, or even knows that there is one, much less would they even fathom that they could download and install software on it.  In other words, the Facebook and Myspace crowds aren’t hip to wonders of mobile browsing yet.  Hope that changes soon…


Try Windows Live Search Beta for mobile
Now available for Sprint customers
1. Visit on your mobile device.
2. Choose your device (either a J2ME-capable phone, or a Windows Mobile Smartphone or PocketPC) and download the application.
3. Start it up! On a J2ME device, it will be called “Windows Live Search” and, on some phones, might be listed in the Games menu. On a Windows Mobile device, you’ll see it in the Start Menu (or in Programs on a PocketPC), labeled “Search”.