Yesterday, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will include a new browser — currently codenamed “Spartan.” At the time, though, it shared very few details about it, something it rectified by posting a more detailed description this morning.
What we know now, for example, is that Microsoft will continue to ship Internet Explorer 10 for those who still need some of its legacy features like Active X. IE on Windows 10 will support both Microsoft’s new and old rendering engines, and Spartan can also fall back on the old IE engine when it encounters legacy sites.
That all sounds quite confusing, but Spartan will be the default browser and feature both a refreshed interface and numerous other under-the-hood improvements that likely won’t come to IE. Spartan is also a universal app that is meant to work across all Windows 10 devices from smartphone to desktops. Chances are, most regular users won’t see the old IE on Windows 10, and Microsoft is only keeping it around for those enterprise users who really still need it.
For now, it’s unclear if IE will still ship with Windows 10 or if it will be a separate download. Windows 10 will definitely support both, though. Having two Microsoft browsers installed by default seems rather confusing (but it is Microsoft we are talking about here).
So what is it that will make Spartan different? Microsoft says the focus will be on interoperability and supporting modern web standards. While the next Technical Preview won’t feature Spartan, it will use its rendering engine. Microsoft has made a number of changes to it since it last shipped a preview build and updated the built-in developer tools.
Microsoft has yet to release any performance details about the browser. It almost seems like that’s less of a focus with this release. Instead, it’s more about convenience features like the new distraction-free reading mode and Cortana integration, as well as the ability to annotate web pages.