Comments on: Microsoft Trials New Deepfish Browser

Microsoft has unveiled a preview of Deepfish, a new mobile browsing technology for Windows Mobile devices (including the Treo 700wx and 750) that aims to preserve the layout and content of web pages. Similar to the mobile version of Apple's Safari browser (as demonstrated during the iPhone keynote), Deepfish eschews reformatting web pages for mobile screens and instead allows users to zoom in and out of the page to get at the content they need, giving a more desktop-like experience.

Unlike Safari (I assume), Deepfish does not render the pages itself. Rather, it uses a thin client to access servers that initially dish up a thumbnail image of the site you're browsing. According to the Deepfish Team blog, as you dig deeper into the page, Deepfish will load only the sections you're drilling into, resulting in "substantially quicker load times for most pages".

Deepfish is still in the preview stage and as such still lacks a number of features, such as cookies and javascript support. Despite this, the Deepfish Team say it still provides "a great experience on most sites". You can register for the preview at the Deepfish site. Read on for a video demo.

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So very beta

Foo Fighter @ 3/29/2007 8:28:10 PM # Q
Ah! Microsoft has a cat too... a copy cat (love that quote).

So I've tested this software on both WM Smartphone and PPC, and based on what I have experienced DeepFish is a very poorly implemented piece of software, or very early code at least. Some of its shortcomings owe more to Windows Mobile than anything else, but that can't be helped at this point.

Aside from the obvious fact DeepFish is a ripoff of iPhone's Safari browser, the UI doesn't work as you would think it should. For example, you might all be thinking.."Hey! I'll bet I zoom in simply by tapping on the screen with my finger." Nope. In order to zoom in you have to call up the highlight box by using the center d-pad, which is rather clumsy and feels very unnatural. You can manipulate webpages entirely via d-pad of course, but not so with the touchscreen.

The zooming motion works very flaky. When scrolling up and down a web page, ugly horizontal lines spill across the top of the screen, which shows this software's ugly underpinnings.

On the whole DF looks and feels like an attempt to fasten an advanced UI feature over a legacy interface. An iPhone-like GUI gimmick on top of Windows Mobile is like lipstick on a pig. If Microsoft truly wants to deliver an innovative mobile web experience, ala iPhone, the entire software framework needs to be revamped first.

Still, DF is a credible first attempt at a new browser metaphor (at least new to Microsoft anyway). But the folks in Redmond still have a long way to go before they get this right.


RE: So very beta
freakout @ 3/29/2007 9:58:47 PM # Q
Yep, it's definitely iPhone-inspired. I was wondering how long it would be before another company stole the zooming idea. Question is, how much progress will they make before iPhone's release? if they could have it finished before June - with better touchscreen support - they could potentially steal some of Apple's thunder.

I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 ---> Treo 650 ---> Crimson Treo 680
RE: So very beta
zadillo @ 3/30/2007 12:32:34 AM # Q
I'll admit that was my first impression too; however, when I did a google search for "deepfish", I came across some articles from late 2006 about this, so it seems like this was already being shown off to some degree (or people at least were seeing it), so it seems more like an independent development.

Aside from that, the iPhone Safari interface was only just unveiled a couple of months ago. Even if Deepfish hadn't already been being shown before then, it would be pretty hard for them to have developed everything in Deepfish in such a short span of time.

Having said that, just from watching the video demonstration of Deepfish and comparing it to the iPhone Safari demonstration, Safari at least looks like a more natural experience (i.e. doing without the "zoom square" to position where to focus on). But we'll have to see. In the iPhone demonstration at least the touch scrolling also looks very natural to me, but I'm wondering if I will really like that as much as using a joystick (not that I necessary like the joystick navigation using Blazer on my Treo 65).

freakout @ 3/30/2007 5:19:17 AM # Q
The joystick control of the box is okay for one-handed use. But they should also allow use of the stylus to just draw a box around whatever you want to zoom into - IMO, a slightly more elegant solution than iPhone's pinch method. Better yet, steal Apple's double-tap idea for "smart" zooming.

It's time like these I wish I had a WinMob device. Blasphemous, I know.

W.r.t. these comments...I wonder what Apple has patented?
SeldomVisitor @ 3/30/2007 6:25:21 AM # Q
Apple says they have a gajillion patents on the iPhone (I keep remembering "200" but have no idea why). Perhaps that UI is thoroughly protected by patent, not poor design on MSFT's part.

RE: So very beta
SeldomVisitor @ 3/30/2007 7:40:12 AM # Q
Lol! I just Googled for "patent iPhone" and see that Apple has patented some voice-recognition stuff. Kinda makes this joke:


less of a joke, eh?

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Bad, old idea

Scott R @ 3/29/2007 9:34:56 PM # Q
There was a Palm OS web browser that did this same sort of thing ages ago. I don't even remember the name of it because I tried it for 5 minutes and didn't enjoy the experience. This may be slicker, faster, and more stable than that old Palm OS browser, but it will still be a bad idea, IMO.

A good mobile browsing experience depends on a mobile-optimized site. There's no amount of magic that can take a website optimized for an 800+ pixel-wide screen and shrinking it down to a small screen and comparatively slow data connection.
- Tapwave Zodiac News, Reviews, & Discussion -

RE: Bad, old idea
freakout @ 3/29/2007 9:53:23 PM # Q
I agree that mobile-optimised sites are the better way to go - especially considering the outrageous download charges most international carrier rack up - but I do think that this zooming concept has merit. Some sites are never going to be made mobile-friendly, and reformatting them only works well about half the time.

The interesting part was that MS said they had written it to potentially be cross-platform, so it may not just be WinMob users who benefit.

I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 ---> Treo 650 ---> Crimson Treo 680

RE: Bad, old idea
javispedro @ 3/30/2007 7:52:38 AM # Q
WebPro did. The Nintendo DS also does.

BTW, I also think the idea is horrible. It works for non-mobile sites, but is not that helpful at all. It is horrible for mobile sites.

RE: Bad, old idea
CompeauFawkes @ 6/22/2007 12:34:44 PM # Q
The company I think you're recalling from long ages ago in Palm's past was ZFrame ( which used client/server architecture just like the Safari mobile solution to preprocess content for viewing, and allowed zooming in and out of documents and a 'pop-up' viewing of text content for reading. I thought they were way ahead of their time, considering the low resolution of devices at the time.

Headed by a very intelligent guy named John Robotham, the company seems to still be in business.

Mike Compeau

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Doesn't this break the web?

nybble @ 3/30/2007 8:05:21 AM # Q
It seems like there's a lot of problems with this approach. Turning everything into images - how do you deal with forms and javascript and copy and paste? It would be as though everyone did their site as an imagemap, right? As far as I can tell this browser is fundamentally broken, although if they did solve those problems with images, I will be mightily impressed.

Blogged a little more about it here:

my blog:">#comments

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sremick @ 3/30/2007 9:02:00 AM # Q
And this will be available for PalmOS in 3...2...1...



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