David Papp Blog

Microsoft’s Project Spartan overhauls its new browser engine inside and out

Microsoft’s new browser codenamed: project Spartan, is overhauling the definition of ‘web browser’, and remodeling to next-generation standards. This new browser is set to launch with Windows 10.

Huge Potential

The new browser under project Spartan is equipped with Cortana integration, note-taking capability, and a reader mode. This is in line with touch-friendly Windows 10, and is in keeping with newer web functionalities. Cortana has been widely anticipated not only by Halo fans, but also by the general population of mobile device users and it’ll be exciting to see how it measures up to Siri.

A departure from Internet Explorer

The new browser is being improved not only on the surface, but under the hood, making compatibility less of a headache for developers. The new powerful rendering engine behind it is EdgeHTML.dll. Edge, as its name implies, represents the cutting edge of web development. This engine purges most of the underlying functionalities and codes of the old model. Nonstandard features have been taken away, and it has fully turned its back on Trident. Right now Edge is fully embracing the next generation of web development with full functionality of HTML5, making performance exponentially better.

As for those with legacy enterprise sites, they need not be worried. As a Microsoft senior engineer wrote on Smashing Magazine, “In order to ensure that we also retain backwards compatibility, we will not be getting rid of Trident. Instead, we designed and implemented a dual-engine approach, where either the new modern rendering engine or Trident can be loaded.”

A richer web

With a whole bunch of useful features built-in like Cortana support, a special reading list mode, and the ability to annotate and share web pages, the “new Internet Explorer” is making a comeback. Its great potential, and what everyone is excited about apart from the fact that it isn’t going to be yet another IE, is that the new browser’s functionality ties very well with Windows 10.

24 thoughts on “Microsoft’s Project Spartan overhauls its new browser engine inside and out”

  1. I wonder why Microsoft keeps trying to pimp out Internet Explorer. At this point, people are already in the habit of using Chrome, Safari, etc. Even if it were the BEST browser (which I highly doubt) it’d still take a miracle to steal users away from other browsers

  2. I hate to burst your bubbles guys, but this ‘overhaul’ most likely isn’t a compete overhaul. Spartan has been in the works for quite some time now and there have been rumors that the browser engine isn’t made from scratch. If you think about this it kind of makes sense. IE has been developed extensively for more than a decade now and realistically it would be a tremendous, and trust me it would be a tremendous job to build a new browser engine from scratch with the same or even better functionality than today’s modern browsers. They’ll most likely keep the core structure of IE and work with that to make it unrecognizable.

    • Well, this wouldn’t be the first time, would it? There are a lot browsers out there who are based on either Firefox or Chrome. This seems to be the usual way to do things when it goes down to ”creating” new browsers. I’m not surprised to hear Microsoft will be using the same source code, not sure they’d be ready to give up all the work invested on IE. I don’t think Mr. Gates would allow it 😉

  3. I’m excited to see what Microsoft’s new browser can offer. After losing so much ground to Google and Mozilla the past few years I wonder if this can make up for it. Google has now entrenched themselves and their browser with so many users I think it will be hard for Microsoft to make them change their opinions. Not, however, impossible. If Microsoft can offer better functionality and reliability than these other companies, they may be back in the game. Lets hope it’s a far cry from Internet Explorer, the joke of the browser world.

    • I don’t get why they keep putting resources into IE when it clearly hasn’t been working out for them, as the record clearly shows. They’re WAYYY behind Chrome, mozilla, Opera, etc. It’d be one thing if Microsoft’s flagship product was IE, but it’s Windows (which, granted, includes IE, but the browser is just a part of the OS).

  4. Ah well, if there is something I really admire abut Microsoft is their tenacity. I mean, look how they’re trying to improve the now obsolete IE (obsolete compared to other browsers widely used now). I must admit the first browser I ever used was IE, I loved the way it let us organize our favorite links, I still like that about the browser. But to be honest I’m not sure I’ll stop using Firefox… even once this improved version of IE shows up.

  5. Honestly I’m very interested to see what it will offer. I’m mostly using Chrome mostly and I’m not saying it’s a bad browser but it could definitely do better in certain areas. I’ve loved Opera but stopped using Opera as it became probably the weirdest browser I’ve seen (no bookmark bar, no way to import bookmarks, all your favorites appear on speed dial with huge thumbnails and that’s always fun when you have to scroll through hundreds of them to find something).

  6. Gee, I was a little excited about the article until I read some of the comments! I hope that Microsoft finally “sees the light” and understands they need to get with the program. As a user, I DON’T use IE and haven’t for quite some time. Most people don’t use it and Microsoft needs to hear that message. As a former developer, it was always frustrating that Microsoft would make life difficult. Rather than collaborate and work with others, they tried to bully their way through everything with a proprietary mindset. It failed.

    If I want to be an optimist, I’ll look forward to seeing what they can come up with in their new browser, but reading the comments helps me to temper my excitement a bit and perhaps have a wait and see attitude. 🙂

  7. There’s so much room for innovation in this area, and it’s good to see Microsoft is stepping up to the plate. Sure, IE does not have the presence that it once had on the web, but I think it does have at least enough presence to keep the competition on its toes.

    • It really is fairly interesting that google chrome has been able to enter the market and get such a significant hold of it so quickly, but when I (very rarely) have to use IE it just becomes apparent why, it’s so much faster and easier to use…

  8. I’m really not sure what to think. I was never a fan of IE anyhow, much preferring Chrome but I’m willing to give a Microsoft browser another chance if the previous problems I had were eradicated. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

  9. From what’s known up to now, Spartan will use the same “HTML engine” as IE, but a new JavaScript engine and a different interface.

    Thing is, IE’s main problem wasn’t that it was slow as JavaScript goes. Yeah, it was, but the most important thing was that it basically… er… sucked as far as adhering to standards and displaying HTML and CSS according to them went.

    If the only thing Spartan does better is faster JS and a better interface, it will stick suck as much as IE. And all webdevs will cry, once more, tired tears, having to write hundreds of different lines of code to support Microsoft’s beast.

  10. I’m looking so much forward to project spartan, but I can’t exactly pretend like I think I will be using Cortana a whole lot, I often feel as if voice-deciphering technologies such as Siri are more of an annoyance than they are good, perhaps I am not speaking clearly enough, but it rarely works first try for me.

  11. Wow! I didn’t think a browser could get any faster or more technically advanced. This new browser better do some special things in contrast to the other browsers already out. Just when you think things couldn’t get any better, a new idea jumps to the fore front. Sounds to me like this is more hype than anything else and I’d like to see some demonstrations of this before giving my full opinion.

  12. This is exciting! I’ve been impressed with Microsoft lately, especially with the things they’re doing with Windows 10.

    Once Microsoft changed their thinking of demanding the world cater to their browser standards, I really think IE has started becoming more usable. If they want to have any chance at competition, they need to embrace and support open standards.

  13. To be perfectly honest IE has actually been improving by leaps and bounds. Renaming it Spartan might help to dispel some of the negativity surrounding the brand, but it should continue to command some market share as long as all Windows devices come with it installed as default.

    • I’m certainly willing to give it a try. I’m a Chrome user who is getting increasingly frustrated with all the little niggles it seems to have.

  14. I measure the capacity of browsers by how useful they are to my online gaming experience. I don’t even play sophisticated online games or serious games and I often need to do extra work just to get the games to play. Some games are developed using many channels and they might not all work.

  15. I’m looking forward to Cortana but Spartan seems a bit meh. Sure it’ll be better than the current iteration of IE but can it top Mozilla Firefox? Firefox is at this time considered to be the best browser, better than even Chrome.

  16. I think I can say for a lot of us that this a much needed overhaul. Though I do question how this will allow Microsoft’s browser to stand up to all of the other alternatives out there that have taken over for Internet Explorer in the past few years. While Microsoft may be trying to earn back their share, I do not know if it will be successful or not.

  17. This is the upgrade that IE needed for over a decade but never got.
    I am very happy to see that they are listening and trying to improve what is lackluster and I am very positive that this overhaul is going to help immensely.
    Spartan is going to be a very good browser in my opinion, especially with Cortana support.

  18. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to test this Project Spartan browser through the Technical Windows 10 Preview for the Lumias. I’ve installed it on my Lumia 1020 and went immediately on my search for Project Spartan. I’ve loved the UI and functionality seems stable, but not good for everyday using, but hey, this is a technical preview, I should have expected these type of things.

    I hope once they roll out Windows 10 for the WPH that Project Spartan will be one of a kind browser.

  19. Project Spartan, AKA Microsoft Edge is not bad, but it’s at “meh..” level. I wouldn’t switch Chrome for Edge, but I find it nice. However, I really hate the complexity of bookmarking a page, honestly. You have to go to a menu and open the folder you want to put your bookmark in, because that’s easier than drag and dropping like in Chrome. Edge moves fast, and it’s responsive, but it isn’t as user-friendly as Chrome is, so I won’t switch to it.

  20. I wonder what happened with this one, Windows 10 came out a few months ago now and it’s the first time in my life that I hear something about this browser project, maybe it didn’t work out as they wanted to, poor little spartan, I need to do my research on it, though.
    I think that it’s time for Microsoft to make something new when it comes to browsers… if they knew how to make a fully functional, compatible and modern one, I think that it would be a big success.

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