Computers

First look: Unlocking the new features in Microsoft's Project Spartan web browser

First look: Unlocking the new ...
Here's what you can expect in Microsoft's new Windows 10 web browser
Here's what you can expect in Microsoft's new Windows 10 web browser
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Here's what you can expect in Microsoft's new Windows 10 web browser
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Here's what you can expect in Microsoft's new Windows 10 web browser
Project Spartan icon on the Windows 10 taskbar
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Project Spartan icon on the Windows 10 taskbar
Project Spartan has a completely different look than IE
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Project Spartan has a completely different look than IE
Reading view in Project Spartan
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Reading view in Project Spartan
Create a Web Note in Project Spartan
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Create a Web Note in Project Spartan
Share you Web Note via email or social networks
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Share you Web Note via email or social networks
Change browser settings in Project Spartan
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Change browser settings in Project Spartan
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Microsoft promised a new streamlined web browser in Windows 10 that will effectively replace Internet Explorer. It's codenamed Project Spartan, and the first version is now available in the latest build of the Windows 10 technical preview. Here's a look at what to expect.

Project Spartan features

To get access to Project Spartan, you'll need to download the latest build of the Windows 10 tech preview, which is currently build 10049, and available to Windows Insiders via Windows Update. This is a full in-place update and will take a good amount of time to install, possibly an hour or more. We've already covered how to become a Windows Insider for Windows 10 and Windows Phone, and if you want to get on board, read our article here to get started.

Once the installation of the latest build is complete, you'll notice a new Project Spartan icon on the taskbar, which will display thumbnail previews just like IE and other apps have since Windows Vista.

Project Spartan icon on the Windows 10 taskbar
Project Spartan icon on the Windows 10 taskbar

Launch Project Spartan and you'll notice it looks completely different than IE, with a clean and streamlined, intuitive interface that you should be able to navigate your way around after just a couple of minutes. It loads fast, is responsive, and works well via touch or with a mouse and keyboard.

Project Spartan has a completely different look than IE
Project Spartan has a completely different look than IE

A major feature Microsoft is touting in Project Spartan is the ability to write, draw, or type directly on a web page. This feature lets you comment on something interesting or informative on a page, and then share what Microsoft calls a "Web Note" via email, social networks, or other applications. This feature works on the desktop with mouse and keyboard and your finger or stylus on tablets and 2-in-1 devices with touchscreen capabilities.

To use it, tap the Make Web Note button at the upper right-corner of the browser's toolbar. This will bring up a basic editing toolbar that allows you to write or type a message directly on the screen.

Create a Web Note in Project Spartan
Create a Web Note in Project Spartan

When you're done, click the Share button and a list of services and apps that are capable of sharing the the note will be displayed.

Share you Web Note via email or social networks
Share you Web Note via email or social networks

Like the Modern version of IE for Windows 8.1 (and the Reading Mode Apple introduced in iOS 5 back in 2011), Project Spartan has a Reading view to unclutter web pages. It can be toggled on and off with the click of a button located at the top right of the browser, removes everything but the article text and images to make for more comfortable reading, especially with longer articles. The shot below is an example of how pages appear in Reading mode. Note that the inking and "Web Notes" feature can be used in Reading mode, too.

Reading view in Project Spartan
Reading view in Project Spartan

The Settings menu pops out from the right side of the browser, from where you can manage different features, such as setting your homepage, privacy options, default search provider, and more.

Change browser settings in Project Spartan
Change browser settings in Project Spartan

Summing up

Remember, this is the first version for testing, so not everything works and there are plenty of bugs. As Microsoft states on its blog announcing Project Spartan, "This preview is NOT a polished, ready-for-everyone release."

But if you're a Windows Insider and enthusiast who wants to get your hands on Microsoft's new browser, this will let you test it out, give feedback to Microsoft, and get an idea of what to expect as Windows 10 draws nearer.

The video below from Microsoft shows Project Spartan in action.

Project Spartan: Beyond Browsing

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5 comments
The Skud
Will Spartan's bugs be the same ones that plague IE now or interesting new ones?
DaveWesely
And let the list of incompatibilities begin for the web developers! Although the annotation feature is interesting, you can already get that feature with a plugin (Awesome Screenshot Plus, Diigo Toolbar, etc.).
Art Toegemann
I hope this is worth the installation time of an hour plus the learning curve.
Douglas E Knapp
Does it have Ad Block Plus? I real must have unless you really like constantly being spammed with ads! Both chrome, chromium and Firefox do and really all my friends avoid MS like the plague of incompatibility that MS always puts out to try and trap the naive newbies into their web of money making. Get get Firefox or Chrome like everyone else.
Talha Wahid
Great Info Brian, But I think it's not better than Google Chrome and Firefox as shown in the video review here http://techfumes.com/microsoft-project-spartan/