At the last couple of Mix events Microsoft has been talking about having a version of Silverlight for mobile devices. There were big announcements about it being available on not just Windows Mobile, and thus continuing the any device, any browser story they are trying to sell. The reality is that there are more issues with doing this than you’d imagine, for example: a real device application should be able to access device features but running in the browser sandbox would prevent this….. and so the list of “exceptions” begins.
But why wait until Microsoft finally ships a version of Silverlight for Windows Mobile? If you go and try out the SkyFire mobile browser you will find that you can actually see and interact with Silverlight applications from your browser.
On the left is the Silverlight widget that we have on the nsquared solutions website viewed through IE. On the right is the same widget viewed via the SkyFire browser – note that an animation is in progress and visible on the device.
So how are they doing this? Well the idea is similar to the DeepFish concept in that it’s essentially a proxy browser. The browsing is done on the server and just the UI is rendered out to the device – not too dissimilar to remote desktop. Whilst this of course requires a little more bandwidth it does mean that you get the full capabilities of a desktop browser. What would be interesting to look at is what the header information is that gets sent to the server – does it see a desktop or mobile browser?