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Rich Media on Windows Phone 7
One of the big successes of the mobile experience is the porting of Adobe Flash from desktop computers to mobile phones such as Android and Symbian. The presence of Flash support makes it easier for developers to create certain types of game and application, something that long-term users of Microsoft mobile phones will recall from the days of Windows Mobile. Requiring a file to be downloaded and added to the mobile operating system (just as with desktop computers) Flash has been a popular draw recently on Android, allowing the provision of various media streaming services such as BBC iPlayer.
However, there seems to have been some wait for Flash to hit Windows Phone 7, with announcements from Adobe in 2010 yet to come to fruition.
So does Windows Phone 7 have Flash support? Will Adobe be providing a version of their popular rich media application for Microsoft’s mobile platform?
Image credit: Windows Phone Newsroom, http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/windowsphone/imageGallery.aspx
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Where Is Windows Phone 7 Flash Support?
A version of Flash for Microsoft’s new mobile platform was first mooted in the middle of 2010, but while a lot of users are calling for support of the rich media container to be added to Windows Phone, both Microsoft and Adobe seem to be dragging their heels.
At the 2011 Mobile World Congress, Joe Marini (Principal Program Manager of Windows Phone) revealed that both parties are working together in establishing whether or not Flash could be viable on WP7.
Given that there is no version of Flash for iPhone, and Microsoft has their own system for running rich media applications in Silverlight it seems that with the impending release of the HTML5-ready Internet Explorer 9 on Windows Phone, a version of Flash for the platform might never materialize.
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The Microsoft Alternative: Silverlight
Much of Windows Phone 7 uses Silverlight already (it is one of the development platforms for the phone); however, the system which is similar to Flash in many ways is nowhere near as popular or widespread as the Adobe rich media container tool.
Supporting the inclusion of H.264 video and various popular formats such as MP3 and AAC, Silverlight has a strong presence on WP7.
With the arrival of HTML5 it seems unlikely that more websites will adopt Silverlight as their primary rich media method. For an example of Silverlight running in your browser, visit www.silverlight.net/showcase to see just what the framework is capable of.
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Internet Explorer 9 and HTML5
The current version of Internet Explorer on Windows Phone 7 is an easy-to-use browser that offers plenty of options and is built on an HTML page rendering engine that fuses elements of the desktop versions of Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8.
As a result, while the browser offers much in the way of style and accessibility, it is a little behind other mobile browsers.
HTML5 will be supported with the release of Internet Explorer 9 on both Windows desktops and mobile devices; this new version of HTML features new features and elements that allow web pages to display rich media without the addition of extra browser software plugins.
It would seem likely that with Silverlight and soon HTML5 occupying important space on Windows Phone that Flash won’t be coming to this particular mobile platform any time soon.
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- Author's own experience.
- Rubino, Daniel. "IE9 for Windows Phone 7: Adobe Flash, demos and development", http://www.wpcentral.com/ie9-windows-phone-7-adobe-flash-demos-and-development-videos