Microsoft announced Project Spartan to the world on January 21s 2015, then showed it to the public as a preview release on March 30th 2015.

But some people are still wondering, just what exactly is it?

  • "a new browser?"
  • "I hear its a new rendering engine?"
  • "Will it take over IE or run alongside?"

Today things look a bit more clear, Spartan is a new web browser being introduced in Windows 10. From what we know you won’t be able to use this in Windows 7 or 8.

How will this affect developers?

Well, in truth, not much.

Spartan will come with a new rendering engine, but its a fork of trident, so you shouldn’t be in for any nasty surprises. So far a majority of the changes in rendering have been performance based; for example, huge WebGL improvements.

The engine itself is also not being rolled into previous versions of IE, as MS state:

“Internet Explorer 11 will remain fundamentally unchanged from Windows 8.1, continuing to host the legacy engine exclusively.”

The good news however is that Spartan is using a new Javascript engine, with performance matching Chrome and Firefox

The developer tools are also the same as the ones baked into IE 11 (latest edition). So there’s nothing new here (for now).

Having a test drive

ieicon

The first thing i noticed when i booted up Windows 10, was that the IE icon is still there. Would this not cause confusion to users? It’s clear Microsoft are putting all their resources into Spartan going forward, but won’t users click the familiar blue e they’ve known for a long time?

“Project Spartan is our future: it is the default browser for all Windows 10 customers”

Maybe this is a gradual change, 2 browsers for now, with one of them eventually going away and leaving the user with just Spartan in future.

newsonspartan

With Spartan open on the BBC news website, you can see how minimal the UI on the browser is. It feels Microsoft are purposely trying to keep this browser as simple and clean as possible with no bloat. The options you see on the top right corner from left to right are: Reading View, add to favourites, view favourites, history, downloads, make a web note, feedback, and a very minimal menu.

Its clear that Spartan is no IE clone, it is a fresh new browser with a new UI and style, new rendering engine & new Javascript runtime to match V8.

Spartan is still buggy but this is a very good start from Microsoft, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of updates and features over the coming months.

What developers want to see is a truly evergreen browser from Microsoft. These days an update every 6 months or a year is not good enough, if spartan can have a release cycle to match Chrome or Firefox it could put Microsoft back into the browser game.

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