Microsoft's mysterious Spartan web browser: What's behind the hype?
Posted on
January 15, 2015
What's the scoop on the new Spartan browser from Microsoft?

There's a great sense of excitement that comes with keeping a secret, and an even greater feeling of excitement when you decide to share that secret with others. It is this same excitement that is leading to the leaking of information on "Spartan." Spartan, very much in the no-frills sense of that word, is the code name for Microsoft's latest divulged secret: a new cross-platform browser expected to debut later this month.

Most of the information about Spartan has, for the most part, been fairly hush-hush. Details are slowly leaking out, however, as we near the official announcement date of January 21, 2015.

Why is there so much hype surrounding the new browser? Let's take a look at some of the reasons:

  • Spartan will include digital inking support, which will allow a user to write notes on a webpage with a stylus, and then send those notes to friend or a group of friends. These doodles and notes will be stored on a copy of a web page that can be accessed by any platform across multiple channels.
  • Microsoft is looking to integrate Cortana, the company's intelligent personal assistant, into the new browser. Cortana will provide valuable intuitive information on the new browsers traditional address bar. You will also be able to access Cortana search directly on Spartan's new tab interface.
  • One of the most groundbreaking features that Spartan will include is the ability to group tabs however you want. You can organize your tabs into groups, such as a work group and a personal group, keeping links in context as to where they came from. As an example; this feature allows you to compare prices of a product on different websites without having to switch between tabs.
  • The new browser will likely be released as an app and not as a part of the new Windows 10 operating system. A downloadable app from the windows store can be updated a lot quicker.
  • Spartan is going to have a simplified, lightweight design. Images of the design were leaked to Neowin that show a design even simpler than that of Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Of course, it's entirely possible that some design changes have been incorporated since those images went out. This fresh design will look the same across all platforms, including cell phone and tablet.
  • Some versions of the browser will support flash, depending on what platform you're on. It is looking like Microsoft's goal is to eventually incorporate this browser onto all of its current platforms, including xbox.
  • Spartan will support browser extensions. This is something that will separate Spartan from Internet Explorer (IE), and could include something to block unwanted advertisements.

In theory, all of these new features could make IE obsolete, though that does not seem to be the case quite yet. It is unclear whether Spartan will eventually take over as Microsoft's default browser, but for now,  IE 11 is still lined up to be the default browser of all new Windows 10 operating systems. Windows 10 is slated to be released in the late summer/early fall of 2015, and you can expect it to come with the newest version of IE 11, with an option to download the Spartan app.

IE is currently the most used browser on the market with over 50% of the market share. Many who currently have IE 11 or IE 8 may have questions about Spartan's compatibility with older systems. It is being reported that Spartan will be using the same trident rendering engine that is used in IE, for compatibility purposes.

There are still a number of mysteries associated with the slim and trim Spartan, but look for many of these secrets to be revealed in full on Jan. 21.

About the Author

Jake Slater is social media manager for GoCertify and a graduate of Brigham Young University.

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