On January 21st, Microsoft unveiled the new default browser for Windows 10 entitled, for now, Project Spartan. Spartan has been developed for 'the modern Web', effectively kicking Internet Explorer in touch and converting it into a legacy browser that will help to support web sites that may have compatibility issues running in Spartan.

Fear not IE fans - this browser will continue to be supported alongside Spartan and if you run IE in Enterprise Mode you can have backwards compatibility for older releases on this browser. For details of Microsoft's support of IE on different O/S platforms take a look here.

Project Spartan appeared on build release 10049 of the Windows 10 preview on March 30th 2015 and here's the icon in the Taskbar.

Launching Spartan gives a blown up version of the icon.

and once launched we see the new browser in action.  

So what's new?

  • A new engine for the browser. To support the new way of the Web, Active X and Browser Helper Objects are gone, spelling the end of Java, Silverlight and Flash in the browser. No more installing of the Ask Toolbar along with your Java update thanks to these changes!
  • Cortana is built into the browser to help make the browsing experience easier for you. Visiting a site that Cortana can help you with will display the Cortana icon and it will notify me that it's 'got directions, hours and more.' - for this specific site http://cuoco-seattle.com/

Clicking the Cortana icon will open up a side bar of information for me that lets me see where the restaurant is, when it is open and allow me to book a table.

I can highlight text in the web site, right click and 'Ask Cortana' for more information.

Unfortunately, at the moment, in the UK I don't get much information back.

  • With Spartan I can annotate and share information from the browser.  Simply click the 'Make a Web Note' icon.

This opens up a new toolbar along the top of the browser that allows me to highlight areas of the web page.

Or cut out sections of the page, which can then be shared 

Currently I can share to a Reading List or One Note. Hopefully this will be expanded upon before RTM.

  • A final feature of interest is the ability to remove clutter from the site with Reading View. Reading View is accessed from the open book icon in the browser.

So the clutter of the site...

is reduced to a simpler reading experience - ideal on a tablet device.

The idea behind Spartan is that updates will come fast and frequently so I would expect that the features introduced here change and are embellished prior to release and new cool features will be added to the browsing experience.

One way to get involved is to join the Project Spartan Feature Suggestion Box and feedback directly to Microsoft. Join up here https://windows.uservoice.com/forums/285214-project-spartan.

If you haven't joined the Windows Insider Programme then do yourself a favour, sign up and grab the latest ISO. Install on a VM and have a play. http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/preview-iso

One last thing to note for ConfigMgr admins - due to the lack of Silverlight in Spartan you cannot use the browser for the Application Catalog.