Fennec Comes to Windows Mobile

Remember when we told you about Fennec’s upcoming availability for Windows Mobile? Now, it’s here.  Yesterday, Mozilla released a pre-alpha test build of the Windows Mobile port. This release is designed to work on an HTC Touch Pro and might not work on other devices just yet (though there’s nothing to stop you from trying.)

Fennec’s goal is to bring the Firefox experience to mobile devices. Historically, Mozilla’s browser has been too resource-intensive for the mobile market, but the time and efforts spent to reduce memory overhead for the Firefox 3 release and other ongoing efforts to improve the browser’s JavaScript performance have made it a viable option for handheld devices.

An early prototype of Fennec was released last year and was followed up by an alpha release that showed off Fennec’s finger-friendly user interface. A second alpha was released in December. All of these early releases targeted Nokia’s N810 Internet Tablet, which runs the Linux-based Maemo platform. While a Windows Mobile port was being developed alongside the Linux variant, this is the first time we’ve seen an official Fennec release for Windows Mobile.

The alpha is just that—an alpha build. In a blog entry announcing the release, Mozilla mobile developer Brad Lassey said, “Our focus to this point has been to have a working, usable browser. To get there in a hurry we have punted in a few places….” For starters, the update mechanism for the browser and for extensions is not enabled, so you’ll have to stay tuned for future releases. Plug-ins are also disabled, though Lassey notes that plug-ins are a high priority moving forward. Finally, Lassey points out that there is no soft keyboard support just yet, so you’ll have to use the HTC Touch Pro’s slide out keyboard to enter a URL.

If you have an HTC Touch Pro, you can check the alpha out for yourself by downloading the CAB file from Mozilla’s FTP repository.