What Exactly is Project Spartan – And What is it Not?

With the release of the Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 10049, we get our first public glimpse of Project Spartan, the all new browser that will be coming in Windows 10.  Project Spartan has been talked about and teased since January but it has taken them until now to get a build of it that they felt was stable enough to use.  In the life of the Internet though, two plus months is a long time so I thought I would give everyone a refresher of what Project Spartan is exactly and equally as important, what it is not.

The is not part of the list is actually small.  Project Spartan is not killing Internet Explorer.  In fact, Windows 10 will ship with Internet Explorer and Project Spartan both.  However, IE will essentially be there for legacy apps and pages only with the focus and future development on Spartan.  Paul Thurrott over on his site has a great write-up on the Microsoft browser strategy and it is well worth the read.

With that then, let’s talk about the guts of Project Spartan.

First, it is an all new rendering engine that is designed for contemporary websites.  It will render far faster than Internet Explorer and when it is all said and done, will likely be one of the fastest if not the fastest browser experience available.  This new rendering engine is what is in Build 10049 so those of you who update today should be able to have a play and see the difference in performance.

Part of the Project Spartan experience is also Cortana integration.  Windows 10 as you all know by now will come with Cortana integration but this is extended to Spartan which allows you to get content easier on a particular website you are visiting.  Cortana will remain in the background and will provide you additional information when you need it.  Cortana is also in the build today but it is for US only right now.

Third, is Inking.  Now you can annotate a website and save that information for later use.  Project Spartan will allow you to write or type directly on the page and you can share those through email or social networks.  You can of course save these to OneNote for later use as well.

Then there is new Reading Lists and Reading View.  Reading Lists are a collection of those things you have saved that you want to read later from the web.  This will include the ability to save any webpage or PDF for access later.  Reading View, as you might guess, is an integrated, distraction free view of that Reading List so you can focus on the reading of the content itself and not get distracted with other things on that page.

Speaking of distraction free, in Project Spartan you will see a much more minimalized user experience when you fire it up.  Gone are a lot of the toolbars and other distractions as they have been moved to menus to get them out of the way.  It will for some be a stark contrast to IE today but it is a far less distracting view of the web.  Microsoft goal is to not visually interfere with your web experience in Project Spartan.

One thing to keep in mind for those of you who upgrade to Build 10049 is that what you see in Project Spartan today is not the finished product.  There are a lot of things that don’t work or don’t work well just yet.  Remember, it’s all beta!  But the new rendering engine is there as is Cortana integration so you can give that a try as soon as you fire up Windows 10.

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