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MS dreams big as IE 6 for Windows Mobile nears

Steve, don't do it!

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Microsoft is prepping developers for the latest version of Internet Explorer on Windows Mobile, while trying to lock America's biggest wireless carrier into an internet search deal.

The company has released emulators for Internet Explorer 6, even though it's preparing to release version 8 for PCs. Despite the version lag, Microsoft claimed IE 6 would provide a "high-quality browsing experience on your device that more closely resembles a desktop browsing experience."

No mention was made of support for Silverlight, its browser-based media plug in, for mobile. Microsoft is pushing for first-quarter of 2009 for preview code of Silverlight for mobile.

The Reg understands a lot of work's going on behind the scenes to fit Silverlight to mobile while delivering a player not too dissimilar in features to the desktop version.

Features in IE 7 include enhanced AJAX and script support with backing for Jscript 5.7 form the forthcoming IE 8, updated media capabilities with Adobe Flash Lite 3.1, what the company's calling "multiple zoom levels" and touch and gesture support. IE 7's availability has been promised "soon".

The IE 7 bits came as Microsoft was reported to be close signing a deal it hoped would increase its share of the internet search and ads-revenue market.

Microsoft is reported to be in talks with US wireless giant Verizon Wireless on a $1bn deal that would see Microsoft's Live Search become the default search service for the wireless carrier's cell phones. Google is also understood to be in the running.

Under the deal, Microsoft would share revenue with Verizon from ads shown in response to cell phone web searches. Verizon will get a guaranteed payment of $550 million to $650 million over five years, an amount thought to be twice Google's offer.

Can you hear me now?

A Verizon Wireless spokesman refused to comment, saying sniffily: "We're not going to negotiate important business relationships in the media."

A deal would - on paper at least - provide a massive opportunity for Microsoft's struggling search business in a growth market. Microsoft's search is a distant third-placed player behind leader Google and number-two Yahoo! in search market share.

So far, though, Microsoft has not fared well on mobile search. An existing deal with Sprint Nextel, with 54 million customers, has clearly failed to increase Microsoft's search market share.

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