Microsoft’s confirmation that Windows Phone 7 (formerly Windows Mobile 7) will not support native code has left several vendors stumped. The reason behind it seems solid enough; sandboxing native code is a difficult task, so why not get rid of it altogether? While this may work for several applications, it is not feasible for browser vendors.
The first of the browsers to call it quits was Firefox. The version of Fennec being developed for WP7 is now on hold permanently. The reason is simple; rewriting large amounts of code to fit the new requirements is an unnecessary cost for vendors. Google and Palm once went the route that Microsoft is taking but understood enough to back down and let native code through.
The real test for Microsoft will be the performance of Internet Explorer. In the previous versions of the OS the only saving grace in the browsing area was that users could install other, better browsers. But with Firefox dropping out and Opera expected to follow, it is not clear as to how the browser support will pan out. So if IE drops the ball on the browsing experience, the Windows Phone could face an embarrassing failure in sales.
On the positive side though, Microsoft promises a more secure OS run with Silverlight, XNA and Flash (due to popular demand and perhaps as hit to Apple) and a better IE that responds more accurately to finger inputs. But unless the user experience is surprisingly superior to any other similar product, the Windows Phone already looks doomed.