Opera Software has developed a product to run on Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system, with plans to ship demonstration versions to mobile phone operators and manufacturers in the coming weeks.

For a company that has made a name for itself developing and selling browsers that compete with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, the decision to develop a product for smart phones using Windows Mobile software signals a significant shift in strategy. This would be the first Opera browser for mobile devices that runs on the Windows Mobile platform.

"The reason why we've developed a browser for the Windows Mobile platform is simple enough: numerous customers have asked for it," said Dag Olav Norem, product manager for mobile devices at Opera, during a telephone interview today.

Norem declined to say which manufacturers or carriers asked for the new Opera browser.

The product will feature Opera's small-screen rendering technology designed to let users browse regular Web pages on small screens, according to Norem.

Opera and Microsoft have not always been on the best of terms. Last year, for instance, the Opera butted heads with Microsoft over compatibility issues between its browser and the MSN portal.

Opera has delivered its browser technology to numerous suppliers of smart phones, including Nokia and Sony Ericsson.