The latest generation of Nokia and Microsoft smartphones utilise Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system. During the development phase we test new websites on a stock Motorola Android smartphone, the latest iteration of Apple’s class-leading iPad, and both Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox web browsers to ensure that they render as perfectly as possible. If they don’t we re-code the offending page elements.
Microsoft don’t offer much support for web developers, and instead choose to offer development support only for those involved in the production of applications for the latest generation of Windows Smartphones. Thus, despite previous software fixes from Microsoft some sites still don’t render well on these devices.
Note that the updates promised by this pre-emptive article from The Verge were actually missing from the Windows Phone 8.1 upgrade, and the only additional notable support for web content was the inclusion of support for HTML5 video content.
The latest version of the Windows Phone operating system, Windows 10 Mobile starts a limited consumer roll out today (10th April). It includes an updated browser with a new web rendering engine currently only known as Project Spartan which we’re hoping will fix more of the rendering issues on Windows smartphones.
However, questions over how many handsets will actually receive the update, and pre-published documentation stating that Spartan won’t support some legacy technologies natively like Browser Helper Objects or ActiveX, indicate that this could be another missed opportunity by Microsoft.
We understand the importance of cross-platform accessibility, but as developers, until the consumer uptake of the latest Microsoft mobile technology improves (currently representing just 2.4% of the total mobile market and falling 2014 Q4) it’s just not worth making rendering changes for mobile Windows systems which will most likely result in reduced quality rendering on the remaining 97.6% of devices out there.
We also have to consider the demographics of the potential customers for the businesses we build websites for. In the case of the website in question, the Kudos Villas Estate Agency website in Spain; their target consumers are 45+, asset heavy, cash rich buyers already invested heavily in Apple or Android hardware. Given the consumption statistics available, uptake of Windows Phone mobile devices in this consumer segment is likely to be sparse at best.