What to expect from Windows 10's new Spartan browser

Big changes are ahead for browsing in Windows

Rumors abound that Windows 10 will get a new browser, code-named Spartan, and that it might be unveiled at Microsoft's January 21 press event less than a week from now. Here's what you can expect to see.

First things first --- Spartan will apparently be an entirely new browser, but a legacy version of Internet Explorer will probably also be in Windows 10. That's for compatibility reasons with any Web sites or applications built using Internet Explorer.

Expect Spartan to be Chrome-like, a simplified browser with a tabbed interface and the usual address bar, and back, forward, and home buttons. It's expected to support extensions, like Chrome and Firefox do. Lack of extension support has been a major drawback of Internet Explorer. Gone will be all the Internet Explorer overhead that we've all gotten to know and hate. It's not clear what the shipping version of Spartan will be called. There's a chance, for example, that it will simply be called Internet Explorer.

The Verge reports that it will integrate with Cortana's Siri-like digital assistant, and that it will have a new "inking" feature that allows people to annotate Web pages and share those annotations with others using Microsoft's OneDrive cloud-based storage service. The Verge also reports that tabs will be able to be grouped.

NeoWin says that a "reading mode" will be included that strips out ads and other distractions, and displays the text of a Web page in an easy-to-read form.

What's not clear is whether the same Spartan browser will run on traditional PCs, touch-based tablets, and Windows Phone devices. Some reports say the browser will be identical, while others say the browser will look the same, but still be different in some ways.

The browser may not necessarily ship with Windows 10, but instead be available as a separate download from the Windows Store. Stay tuned to find out more.

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