IE on Windows Phone provides for a grossly inadequate browsing experience.

I don't really know who to lay the blame at, the developers or Microsofts IE team, but here's my story. I have been using a Nexus 5 the past few month and yesterday found myself one on one with a Lumia 1520 WP8.0 that my uncle got himself.

Beautiful device, feels very well made and luxurious, a bit slippery though. After not finding the applications he was after in the store I didn't think much of it and just hit the web as most of those services had websites. Now, you would think the Ms WP/IE team knowing they are at a disadvantage when it comes to app selection would do their outmost to make IE mobile able to handle the most popular sites without bugs. Sadly this was not the case, the device was in fact absolutely unusable on many websites and offered subpar usability on others. Later on using chrome on a smaller Android device again felt like a breath of fresh air after the IE experience, it was that bad.

Right after buying the 1520 my unc complained that he could not browse the net properly and use functions/features on the sites he typically visits. At first I thought he is probably just doing something wrong, when I came around he gave me a list of 4 or so of his most frequently used sites, they were:

cnn.com (Disqus won't load on CNN mobile site, videos won't play properly)

drive.com.au (won't load mobile site, drop down list odd to use, chrome gets redirected after trying to search)

m.echo.msk.ru (Livecast won't play)

streema.com (stations won't play)


He told me he could not watch videos on CNN. So I went there and checked and indeed the video would not come up, just the ad would play in the full screen player and then the webpage would appear again. I then figured out that after this if you press the video again it will in fact start playing, at least most of the time. But how buggy and shitty was the experience. The available video controls on the built in full screen player it appears do not let one jump to any part of the video by dragging or pressing on any part of the progress bar ! Also disqus would absolutely not load when viewing the mobile version of the site.

I was also dumbfounded at first by lack of a visible tab switch control (I know you can access the open tabs screen by pressing '...' and selecting tabs, but this is very inconvenient and takes you out of context) and lack of respective flexible and intelligent tab sorting UI like that offered on chrome where you peek at tabs, close them, switch them, all without leaving the context of the page you were on (does not feel jarring where you just get a screen of static tab preview tiles) etc. I then found out that holding the back button will show you open tabs in mulitask/open apps view, this sort of compensated for lack of 'immediately (not two steps !)' accessible tabs control. That being said this lack of visual queues could really piss a novice like my uncle off as he could not easily switch tabs and had to go through the two step process. There's a also a downside to the 'hold back button' approach when just trying to view open tabs as it mixes tabs with other open apps and takes longer to load.

derive.com.au simply proved too arduous to use, chrome mobile got redirected and loaded the mobile site properly, IE did not. So the devs couldn't give a rats ass about optimising for it.

The others just plain didn't work.

End result: Unc had to put the thing on sale 24 hours after buying it.

After this endeavour I am a tad worried about Microsofts future in mobile. Perhaps he just had a dodgy device, but it certainly seemed like a purely software related shortcoming,. I like the rest of the OS and believe it has very solid UI and runtime foundations, IE though appears to be a cancer bogging it down. Perhaps it is indeed best Microsoft switch to a webkit browser ?