Mobile Browser Roundup: The SharePoint Test

Let’s be honest, mobile web browsing has been hit and miss — mostly miss. (An Opera Mini advocate should feel free jump in here and set me straight here– although Opera Mini crashes on my smartphone pretty consistently).

I recently had cause to look at how well SharePoint (the recently buzz-garnering content management, workflow, and collaboration platform from Microsoft) renders on mobile devices. This seems like a suitable benchmark for mobile browsing as of mid-2008.

  • As of today I myself use a “Blazer” browser on the Palm platform which is hopelessly slow and poor at rendering web pages of nearly every description.
  • Generic mobile browsers, including Windows mobile, don’t render SharePoint (or many other web sites) well.
  • I’ve read both that iPhone’s Safari browser renders SharePoint well, and that it renders poorly, but haven’t tested this claim.
  • SkyFire browser for Windows mobile is supposed to be much better but is still in closed beta
  • Deepfish from Microsoft is also in closed beta.
  • An overview on other Pocket IE type browsers – (replacing this older overview).
  • As an alternative to mobile browsers, using XenApp (Citrix) clients for Windows CE, Blackberry, or Symbian (possibly soon to include iPhone) one can open a “real” browser on a remote PC and simply view the already-rendered views on one’s screen. (I haven’t used this so I don’t know how well it works.)
  • RoveMobility has something called PCMobilizr, which is like PCAnywhere (3 stage – client, proxy service, server agent) which will have an iPhone client shortly.
  • Other workarounds for the inability of mobile browers to process SharePoint include alternative means of publishing the information in a SharePoint site, e.g. RSS or other feeds, emailing back information / links, and custom web parts that expose Outlook Web Parts (“OWA”) or other web parts that don’t work well outside of a desktop IE browser in a simpler (html or text) format.

At this point does anybody want to jump in with a run-down of the embedded Flash capabilities of mobile browsers?

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Filed under mobility, web services

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