On Wednesday, Microsoft presented the latest consumer developments for its upcoming Windows 10 operating system. Compared to the technical preview of last year, it was notably a question of the Spartan project and thus the formalization of this rumor which had recently gained momentum.
This project for a new, lighter and faster web browser is still under development and will not be present in the next Windows 10 preview update which will be available next week.
During its short presentation of Spartan (a codename), Microsoft spoke with lip service of a new user interface, a new rendering engine, greater interoperability and reliability and a new browsing experience across the whole range of products. Windows 10 (a universal application).
But Microsoft has mainly focused on new features introduced with Spartan. The possibility of annotating web pages (via stylus or keyboard) and sharing with friends or colleagues (notes are synchronized via OneDrive); a reading mode which eliminates distractions in order to facilitate the reading of an article online / offline (with synchronization across devices) and the support of PDF; the integration of the Cortana personal assistant (voice searches, display additional information on sites based on what Cortana knows about the user, etc.).
In a blog post aimed more specifically at developers, Microsoft gives a little more details about Spartan but also Internet Explorer which will not disappear with Windows 10.
Spartan does indeed exploit a new rendering engine (it is referred to as Edge) centered on interoperability with the so-called modern Web. For the support of Web standards, there is in particular a roadmap. It turns out that this new rendering engine started as a fork of Trident (the current rendering engine of Internet Explorer) and gradually moved away from it.
For reasons of compatibility with mainly corporate websites designed for Internet Explorer, Spartan may load the IE11 rendering engine if necessary. And the surprise is that Internet Explorer itself will be able to play on this duality of rendering engines, while adding support for old technologies such as Active X controls.
Spartan should be the default browser for individuals. For Internet Explorer, Microsoft speaks of availability on Windows 10 for users who will need it. Everything is not yet very clear at this stage. Presumably, common users will have Spartan, while copies of Windows 10 for business will come with Internet Explorer.
Points that will be checked in the coming weeks. Microsoft must however avoid the pitfall of confusion as it was the case with Windows 8: a version of Internet Explorer for the Modern UI environment and another for the Desktop.
For the next build of Windows 10 preview, if there will be no Spartan (the new browser), there will be " lots of updates to the new web rendering engine that Spartan will use ". Developers must do their part.