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Rumor: Microsoft Working On Lightweight 'Spartan' Browser For Windows 10

Unnamed sources have informed ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley that Microsoft plans to launch a brand new lightweight browser. Codenamed "Spartan," this browser is expected to make its debut on Windows 10, and it will feel more like Mozilla's Firefox and Google's Chrome browsers than Internet Explorer. Windows 10 is slated to go retail in 2Q 2015 or 3Q 2015.

As with Microsoft's virtual personal assistant (Cortana) and Windows 10 (Threshold), Microsoft is digging into Halo lore with the Spartan codename. According to the Halo Wikia, the name describes "members of several super-soldier programs instituted by the UNSC."

Sources told Foley that Windows 10 for desktop will ship with both Internet Explorer 11 and the Spartan browser; Spartan will not be Internet Explorer 12. However, Microsoft plans to release a version of Spartan for mobile platforms, as well. What's not clear is whether Spartan will be a Windows 10 exclusive or if it will be made available for all operating systems such as Android and Apple's Mac OS X.

The report also revealed that Spartan will use Microsoft's Trident rendering engine and its Chakra JavaScript engine. There's supposedly two versions of Trident in development, which seemingly backs up talk that Microsoft is cooking two separate browsers in the Redmond oven.

As it stands now, Windows 10 Technical Preview includes Internet Explorer 11.0.9879.0. The next release of the Technical Preview will take place on January 21, 2015, during a special event that will reveal the platform's consumer-focused features. Spartan may be revealed during the event, but currently, there's no indication that the browser will be released at that time.

Based on the provided information, Spartan has a good chance of becoming Microsoft's first multi-platform browser. Firefox and Chrome already address the multi-platform market while Internet Explorer has served as a Windows exclusive. Sources suggest that Internet Explorer will still be offered for backwards compatibility reasons.

Spartan fits in with Microsoft's multi-platform services vision. The company currently offers Office apps for both Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms. However, Modern UI apps for Windows 8.1 have yet to be released.

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  • boletus
    The main reason I do not use IE these days is simply because of its deep integration into the Windows OS. MS can try all they want to make it the most secure browser on the planet, but the fact is that if it becomes compromised, the consequences are potentially greater than with a third-party browser.
    Reply
  • ElusiveSpy
    I think this is great news. Time to shake up a bit the market heavily dominated by Chrome. If Spartan succeeds, we'd have two real alternatives instead of just being Firefox. The fact that they are making a new browser gives me great hope as they can shed all those support for legacy code bloating and dragging down IE. I for one would love to see more integration between my OS and the browser, just like how much integration there are between Chrome and other Google services.
    Reply
  • red77star
    What a stupid company Microsoft is....this was a great chance to drop Trident engine in IE and go with Web Kit. Completely drop numbering so instead of calling it IE 12, just call it IE. But no...they are going to write to separate layers, one for legacy and new one...stupidity beyond comedy.
    Reply
  • red77star
    Just to add more to this...no need for two browsers...just drop trident engine and switch IE to use Web Kit and simply call it IE.
    Reply
  • kenjitamura
    "Microsoft Working on Lightweight"... Microsoft known for making anything "lightweight"?
    Reply
  • padlius
    Problem with Microsoft management is that they cant open a new chapter. They should not even offer backwards compatibility for so many reasons. On the other hand Apple seems to be OK with scraping things in order to create a better product/experience. The trouble is that introducing backwards compatibility would create more work and would also use up more processing power
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    14925913 said:
    What a stupid company Microsoft is....this was a great chance to drop Trident engine in IE and go with Web Kit. Completely drop numbering so instead of calling it IE 12, just call it IE. But no...they are going to write to separate layers, one for legacy and new one...stupidity beyond comedy.

    Screw WebKit, go purely HTML5. WebKit is just ActivX all over again as it is proprietary and not nearly as efficient as HTML5. As well, IE11 has shown to be just as fast as WebKit using Trident. These days the difference is in milliseconds, which is near impossible for anyone to use. To top it off, IE can be controlled via Active Directory making it much easier for IT people to secure their systems than using a third party browser.

    Either way, I don't see why Microsoft would go with something else when their in house engine has been used and is probably easier for them to use.

    14927180 said:
    "Microsoft Working on Lightweight"... Microsoft known for making anything "lightweight"?

    Well for one, Windows 8 is actually lighter than 7 and 7 was lighter than Vista. Sure it is not as light weight as Linux but then again it has to support a much broader range of hardware and software out of the box.

    14927394 said:
    Problem with Microsoft management is that they cant open a new chapter. They should not even offer backwards compatibility for so many reasons. On the other hand Apple seems to be OK with scraping things in order to create a better product/experience. The trouble is that introducing backwards compatibility would create more work and would also use up more processing power

    Apple is also ok with releasing easily hackable products. Their products are the most insecure of them all, at PWN2OWN their OS and browser are normally the first to fall every year.

    Then again if Apple actually cared about their consumers they would dodge and side step every issue that comes up with their products, such as the bad signal reception on the iPhone 4s or the fake FBI viruses Macs had a while back.
    Reply
  • knowom
    I refuse to use a Microsoft web browser they've had so many security problems with IE for years and years and years. I feel much more secure with Mozilla personally and generally just like their web browser.
    Reply
  • Mike69Hunt
    Microshaft need a decent cross-platform browser to encourage the use of Bing. You know, like Google did in 2008 with Chrome.

    Anyone that remembers IE6 will have little trust for M$, but it seems they are finally trying to win through releasing decent cross-platform products. Instead of the Gates/Balmer strategy of wipe out the competitors, then sit on the market. As that stopped people from trusting the brand and now they are (still) starting from the bottom in markets like search/maps/mobile etc.
    Reply
  • Murissokah
    The main reason I do not use IE these days is simply because of its deep integration into the Windows OS.

    Very true, as is your security concern. Add to that the fact that these integrated solutions tend to do a lot more for the vendor than they to for the user.
    Reply