Mobile IE6 to hit Chinese handset first

China Mobile will be the first operator worldwide to sell a smartphone with Microsoft's latest mobile browser

China Mobile will be the first operator worldwide to deliver Microsoft's latest mobile-browser release to its customers.

Scott Rockfeld, Microsoft's director of Windows Mobile, mobile communications business, told ZDNet Asia on Tuesday that China Mobile intends to make Internet Explorer 6 for Windows Mobile available to its customers on its Samsung Omnia phones.

Microsoft intends to announce the China Mobile partnership today at the Mobile Asia Congress being held in Macau, Rockfeld said.

China Mobile was chosen as the first operator to get mobile IE6 because Microsoft hopes to tap the vast growth in the number of new mobile users in the country, Rockfeld added. "Our target is not to convert existing users of competing phones, like the iPhone or Google's Android. We want to grow faster than the market," he said. "We want to have users in [emerging markets] get their first online experience with Windows Mobile."

Microsoft last week released emulator images of IE6 for Windows Mobile phones on its website. The software maker is touting the mobile browser as its first "fully fledged" mobile browser capable of rendering richer content.

Rockfeld said Microsoft has brought the "full rendering engine of IE6 to the phone", which is expected to deliver a surfing experience on the mobile that is closer to that of the desktop. Users can also view rich elements, such as Flash, "straight from the browser", he said.

IE6 for the desktop was released in 2001, and the current release is version 8 beta 2.

China Mobile is carrying a customised version of the Omnia running on Windows Mobile. Rockfeld said it has tweaked the phone to allow users access to the carrier's services, such as email from the device's home screen.