Microsoft is building a new web browser for its Windows 10 platform coming later this year.
“Spartan” will not replace Internet Explorer, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley reports, but it will remain an option for Windows 10 users that want it.
Here’s everything we know:
- It’s going to look and feel a lot like Google Chrome. That makes sense — StatCounter shows Chrome is the top web browser worldwide, and Microsoft wants some of that. Expect a simple, lightweight browser.
- Spartan will support browser extensions, unlike Internet Explorer. We all like add-ons and extensions, so this will be a major plus. Ad Blocker Plus, anyone?
- It’s going to support Cortana. Microsoft’s voice assistant started on Windows Phone, but now she’s going to be baked into Windows 10. By putting Cortana in the web browser, you can ask Spartan to “Go to my email,” or “Make a reservation at this restaurant.”
- You can create “grouped tabs.” Lots of people keep tons of tabs in their web browsers at all times. I’m guilty of having too many tabs open at once. With Spartan, Microsoft wants to let you organise your tabs into “Work,” “Home,” or whatever you want, according to The Verge’s Tom Warren.
- Three words: “Digital inking support.” Microsoft sells some really nice styluses for its tablets, and it looks like the company wants to incorporate their functionality right into Spartan, according to The Verge. So if you’re using a tablet or computer, you can draw right on your webpages, creating notes and annotations that could be stored in OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud platform, to allow access from any browser on any device.
- The UI is still in flux. There are screenshots of Spartan floating around the web right now, and one site even posted a mockup of what it looks like currently, but sources tell Foley that Spartan is still evolving from a design standpoint. The look and feel of Spartan will almost certainly be different once Windows 10 comes out.
- Spartan will be a downloadable app. That might sound surprising at first, considering Internet Explorer has always been baked into Windows. But by letting users download Spartan from the Windows Store, Microsoft will be able to deploy updates more efficiently, and it will also draw more people into the Windows Store. Neowin and The Verge both say Spartan will be a downloadable app.
Microsoft has a Windows 10 preview event on Jan. 21, and the company is expected to be showing off Spartan there.