There was a big news around the world of Windows Mobile devices today, Microsoft announced DeepFish which is portrayed as a new browser for Windows Mobile devices which allow them to surf the normal desktop web more efficently.
Why can I say that I'm disappointed even though I didn't manage to get into the Beta? Because after going through the descriptions on the site it was obvious to me that DeepFish is just a very advanced PROXY RENDERING service. And that's the nice way of saying it, the not so nice way of saying it is that DeepFish is a extermely advanced PROXY SERVER.
So... how does DeepFish work? First of all, DeepFish is NOT really a browser, when you navigate to a URL what the program does is that it'll connect to the DeepFish server and tell it to retrieve the URL, the server will then generate a pictorial representation of the image as if it was viewed on the desktop and send it back down to the client program on your Windows Mobile device. That's a very simplify way of saying how it works, there are of course hooks to allow for HTML form filling, navigation, etc. etc.
The immediate problem with this is that since the server generates an image and returns it to the client, any form of interactive content, ie. Flash, AJAX, movies, etc. etc. Won't work. But that's not why I'm disappointed with DeepFish.
The reason why I'm disappointed with DeepFish is that like ALL Proxy services, everything you enter onto a form, every page you browse, anything you seen, submitted, etc. etc. will get passed to the service, and that opens up a HUGE can of worms in the aspect of privacy issues.
I'm disappointed because even though this is a cool idea, this will never be able to take off and become a real usable product for the masses! Why? Simple, like I mentioned, DeepFish is a proxy service, EVERY SINGLE REQUEST goes through the proxy service. The sheer bandwidth and computing power required to service users should this become an actual released product would be too immense to be able offer it for free. (Why else do you think the beta is LIMITED? There's probably only half a dozen servers serving requests right now.) And I don't see how willing people would be in paying a subscription fee for this.
What DeepFish *should* be is to bring the web page image composition engine from the server and put it directly onto the device so there's no need for a proxy service. But the problem with that is resources on a typical Windows Mobile device are highly limited so it'd take some pretty funky coding to be able to get such an engine to work on a typical Windows Mobile device and still be able to give the users a satisfying browsing experience. I *hope* that someone in MS is striving to give Windows Mobile devices a REAL actual Web Browser.
Deepfish is a cool tech demo, but if the ultimate destination for the team is to deliver an advanced proxy server instead of an advanced web browser for Windows Mobile... please guys.. just pull up this DeepFish and slaugther it for sushi before it stinks up the place.