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Microsoft Releases Details, Confirms Rumours On Spartan Project

| by James Chesters Follow 1 Followers on Jan 28, 2015. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes |

Microsoft has confirmed rumours that Windows 10 will ship with a new web browser, codenamed "Spartan."

In the blog post Project Spartan and the Windows 10 January Preview Build Jason Weber, group program manager for Internet Explorer, announced that Spartan would be a "more interoperable, reliable, and discoverable experience."

Although Weber notes that the team has "deliberately moved away from the versioned document modes historically used in Internet Explorer", and towards standards used by other, more modern, browsers, Spartan will load "the IE11 engine for legacy enterprise web sites when needed, while using the new rendering engine for modern web sites."

Speaking to Smashing Magazine, Jacob Rossi, senior engineer on Microsoft’s web platform team, describes how Spartan will be powered by the new rendering engine EdgeHTML:

Windows 10 already has [EdgeHTML.dll] integrated, and it will be separate from Trident (MSHTML.dll) that powered Internet Explorer for decades.

The latest versions of Trident powering Internet Explorer 11, did show a remarkable support for standards, but its progress was heavily weighed down by the burden of legacy support for IE5.5, IE7, IE8, IE9, and IE10 document modes — a concept the web no longer needs.

Microsoft go into more detail for developers on their blog, saying:

If you are building a public consumer-facing web site here’s what you need to know:

  1. Our new rendering engine will be the default engine for Windows 10, Spartan, and Internet Explorer. This engine has interoperability at its core and consumes the same markup you send other modern browsers. Our standards support and roadmap can be found at http://status.modern.ie
  2. Public Internet web sites will be rendered using the new engine and modern standards, and legacy Internet Explorer behaviours including document modes are not supported in the new engine. If your web sites depends on legacy Internet Explorer behaviours we encourage you to update to modern standards.
  3. Our goal is interoperability with the modern web and we need your help! You can test the new engine via the Windows Insider Program or using http://remote.modern.ie. Please let us know (via Connect or Twitter) when you find interoperability problems so we can work with the W3C and other browser manufacturers to ensure great interoperability.

Speculation still surrounds whether Spartan is intended to eventually replace IE. Weber notes that Windows 10 will continue to ship with Internet Explorer, however it is stated that this is to support "legacy web sites that use older technologies designed only for Internet Explorer, such as custom ActiveX controls."

Elsewhere, the reactions among rival browsers were favourable. Andreas Bovens, extensions product manager for Opera, spoke to InfoQ about the Spartan project. He said:

This is exciting news. It's very good to see Microsoft take web standards seriously (thereby confirming the path it has taken with the last couple of IE versions, that have had better and more competitive standards support than before), and also go for an evergreen-browser model.

This is a good thing. It means that legacy websites that rely on IE-specific features or behaviours will have to catch up with modern web standards. Once this has happened, they will also start better working in other browsers, which is great.

Mozilla also commented on the news. Chad Weiner, director of product management, said while it was "premature" to speculate what Spartan would look like before it launches they "applaud the steps Microsoft appears to be taking to adopt the modern Web standards that Mozilla proudly champions."

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they finally went with webkit. hopefully it won't be too painful for web developers to support that browser.

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