Microsoft's Project Spartan Browser Debuts
It's included in the latest Windows 10 technical preview.
Microsoft's new Project Spartan browser is both a vision of the future and a nod to the past. That way, Microsoft hopes to build market share without eroding the base that still uses Internet Explorer.
Heading for that goal, earlier this week Microsoft unveiled the newest technical preview of Spartan, including its new EdgeHTML rendering engine.
Build 10049 of the Windows 10 preview was released to testers on Monday, less than two weeks after the release of build 10041. Unlike previous Windows 10 technical preview builds, build 10049 includes both the new Spartan browser and Internet Explorer 11. The latter browser does not support Spartan's new EdgeHTML rendering engine, which -- as Microsoft explained last week -- is contrary to the company's previous plans.
Microsoft describes the EdgeHTML rendering engine as being much faster, more secure and reliable. Microsoft says the new Spartan browser is better suited for modern apps than IE, though it also incorporates Microsoft's legacy Trident rendering engine to ensure compatibility.
"It is fast, compatible and built for the modern Web. Project Spartan is designed to work the way you do, with features enabling you to do cool things like write or type on a Web page," said Joe Belfiore, Microsoft corporate vice president for operating systems, in a blog post on Monday. "It's a browser that is made for easy sharing, reading, discovery and getting things done online."
Spartan aims to deemphasize the fact that you're using a browser, effectively putting the user's focus on the content, Belfiore said. The new browser integrates with Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant that debuted on Windows Phone 8.1. Spartan also uses the Bing search engine to find information.
The new browser also introduces a new feature called "inking," which lets users type or write with an electronic pen directly onto a Web page. Users can make comments on a piece of the page and share it online, either as an e-mail or through social networks. The inking feature is similar to marking up a .PDF file.
Belfiore also pointed out that users can easily compile Web Notes and save them in Microsoft OneNote.
Also new in the Spartan browser are Reading Lists and Reading Views, designed to make it easier to put aside information from Web pages. Users can save any Web page or .PDF into a Reading List for easy access at a later time.
Windows 10 is expected to become generally available sometime this summer.
Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.