In Pictures: Microsoft’s new Spartan browser for Windows 10

Here’s what sets Spartan apart from Internet Explorer.

  • Spartan The most recent Windows 10 Technical Preview comes with Spartan, a web browser that will eventually replace Internet Explorer. It’s not an updated version of IE under a different name; it's a new browser that Microsoft built from scratch. Here's what sets Spartan apart from Internet Explorer.

  • New name For the time being, the browser is officially referred to as Project Spartan, and "Spartan" may or may not be its final name when it’s released with Windows 10. Sure, unlike "Internet Explorer," the name doesn’t strongly imply that this program is for browsing the Internet, but neither do the names Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Safari. So we think "Spartan" sounds like it would fit in perfectly among its competitors.

  • Internet Explorer lives on Microsoft's previous, and not much-loved browser will still be included in Windows 10, in case you need to visit sites or use web services that absolutely require it. This will probably apply mostly to enterprise users. The current Windows 10 Technical Preview doesn't list Internet Explorer on the desktop or taskbar. It's hidden under Windows Accessories in the Start Menu.

  • Spartan is the default Spartan will be set as the default browser in Windows 10. This status can be changed by another browser, like Chrome or Firefox, to take over the role as the default. There isn’t a way to set Spartan back to default within its own settings. To do this you have to go to the new Windows 10 Settings app.

  • Spartan features Edge
rendering engine
 Not only will Windows 10 come with two web browsers, each browser will use a different rendering engine. IE will still use Trident, while Spartan comes with the faster and more technologically up-to-date successor Edge. Originally, Microsoft considered stuffing both engines into their new browser, but elected not to, in order to better clarify the separation between the two browsers: IE would be sticking around for backward compatibility.

  • Spartan becomes Windows app Is Microsoft's new browser a Windows app or desktop application? It appears to be the former. In Windows 10, users will interact with Windows apps on the desktop environment in resizable windows; the overall feel from using Spartan suggests it is such an app. It also shares the same design language as the other new, resizable Windows apps coming to Windows 10, such as the Store and Maps apps, as seen in its title bar and borderless frame.

  • Spartan has cleaner, simpler look As its name implies, compared to IE, Spartan sports a cleaner looking UI with a borderless viewing pane and simpler graphical elements in the toolbar. This minimalism is also evident under its settings menu, which displays things in large text and isn't cluttered with several options. In a side-by-side matchup, Spartan’s GUI initially looks similar -- the main differences are that Spartan's has fewer colors and slightly larger toolbar icons, but its tabs are set over the toolbar, as opposed to the way IE does it by setting tabs within the toolbar. Spartan’s arrangement of tabs looks less confusing.

  • Spartan has link sharing feature This is a minor feature, but one that isn’t in the latest IE. In Spartan, you can send a link directly to another Windows app, such as OneNote or the Reading List.

  • Cortana is integrated into Spartan Microsoft's personal digital assistant Cortana will come with Windows 10. It's similar to Apple's Siri or Google's Google Now, where, basically, you speak aloud a command or question and the technology will scour the Internet for your requested information, sometimes speaking out what it finds in a digital voice. Cortana's features are integrated into Spartan but, as of this writing, can be accessed only in the US versions of the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview, but Microsoft plans to expand its availability to other countries soon.

  • Spartan will likely support extensions Firefox has add-on functionality, while Chrome refers to its equivalent feature as extensions. Under Spartan, add-ons appear to refer to plugins for running multimedia technologies, like Flash. It's been reported that Spartan’s final release will have extension support similar to Chrome, so developers will be able to write tools to enhance the usability of the browser.

  • Spartan has 'reading view' for smaller screens Spartan can re-render certain pages to display only the main body of text and a related image, stripping out extraneous graphics and text from the original layout. This is meant to make an online article more legible and visually comfortable to read, especially on a tablet. To do this, you click the open-book icon to the right of the URL address bar. This function isn’t available when this icon is grayed-out: Not every page is able to be stripped down to its essentials. Spartan’s reading view tends to be available when you visit a page showing an article or blog entry, but not always.

  • Spartan integrates with Web Note drawing tool This ballyhooed feature lets you draw right onto a page, doodling over it or jotting handwritten notes (if you are using a digital pen on a Windows 10 tablet). But technically what Web Note does is capture an image of a page, and then give you basic drawing and highlighting tools. You can also annotate the image with notes you type in, and copy the image of the page, or portions of it, so that you can paste it into a document or image that you’re editing in another program. Pages can be saved as a favorite (bookmark), added to the browser’s reading list, or forwarded to other Windows apps through Share.

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