Microsoft finally confirmed the long-awaited alternative to Internet Explorer (IE). The new web browser, codenamed Project Spartan, will be packaged with the release of the upcoming Windows 10.
Internet Explorer has long been the subject of complaints among Windows Users and Microsoft hopes Spartan will finally give Google’s Chrome a run for its money. But what new features can we expect?
A Companion, Not a Replacement
For the few who still use Internet Explorer – they exist, right? – never fear, IE isn’t going anywhere. Microsoft made it clear that Windows 10 would remain functional with both IE and the Spartan web browser. The company is keeping the old browser around for customers using legacy sites still operating under old technology like ActiveX.
The new Windows 10 and Spartan browser will utilize the same Trident rendering engine for modern sites as IE, but will also integrate Microsoft’s Cortana personal digital assistant technology. Rather than one Trident rendering system the company has divided it in two.
Users opting to stay with Internet Explorer 11 will still have a Trident rendering engine able to mimic older IE browsers and all of the functionality they’re used to.
Meanwhile, Spartan will have a version of Trident, redubbed “Edge,” that eliminates backwards compatibility. Spartan is also capable of using the regular Trident engine as a default for browsing the Web.
Edge does away with the prefix compatibility feature making sites more functional across different platforms. Additionally, Microsoft has added support for HTTP Strict Transport Security allowing advanced plugin-free video playback.
It Comes Packed With New Features
One of the biggest perks of the Spartan browser will be its speed. Tests indicate the new browser can perform at speeds faster than Firefox and on par with Chrome, while using the Edge engine mode.
Microsoft also moves to incorporate its Surface lineup by adding inking support to let users annotate web pages and sync their notes to OneDrive. Reports claim you’ll be able to click anywhere on a web page and add annotations, or just make goofy drawings, if you’d like.
Spartan will also offer a protected mode and offline mode. The protected mode will prevent users or malware from making changes to OS’s filing system or registry, while offline mode will enable you to save online content for offline viewing and use.
Fans of the reading mode on Apple devices will now enjoy it on the Spartan browser, along with a reading list that syncs all your devices.
Prepare to Be Extended
The most noteworthy news about Spartan is its ability to add extensions. Microsoft confirmed the browser will support plug-in codes allowing users to alter their browsing experience.
Microsoft previously indicated plans to build their own version of an app store, which we can assume will be where users can download and purchase extensions for Spartan and Windows 10.
Chrome users are currently only able to download extensions through the Chrome Web Store while purchasing music and other downloads through Google Play Store. Microsoft intends to close the gap and offer all downloads through the Microsoft Store, putting all available downloads in one easy-to-find place.
It remains to be seen which browser users will prefer, but Spartan looks to offer a more streamlined browsing experience than IE. Spartan is designed with a cleaner appearance, seemingly modeled after Chrome, and a simpler, though more extensive, way to navigate. It’s the browser many Windows users have been praying for since, well, Internet Explorer first came out.
Ben Kerns is a fan of all things related to technology and the Internet, especially when it comes to discovering new ways to further merge the two together. When he's not plugged in, he enjoys the great outdoors, healthy living, and singing off-tune to cheesy country songs.
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