Microsoft Reinvents The Browser, Project Spartan Includes Powerful Productivity And Collaboration Tools, Native PDF, Cortana Built-In

I'd have to say that overall, Microsoft's big Windows 10 event today impressed. Not only were there some surprises, but it was nice to have some confirmation over some of the rumors that have come out over the past month. While we didn't learn of a phone + laptop hybrid which was rumored about yesterday, we did get confirmation that Project Spartan is a real product -- and Microsoft is planning for it to be an integral piece of the Windows 10 puzzle.

While Internet Explorer is a Windows feature that can be (and is) largely ignored, Spartan is different. Its functionality is going to be on such a level that it might actually lure people away from competing browsers, such as Firefox or Chrome. That might sound like a bit of an exaggeration, but believe me: Microsoft has done some impressive things here.

Microsoft Project Spartan 01

As we reported before, Spartan will feature a brand-new and different engine from Internet Explorer, and while I'm sure that's a great thing, it's not what makes Spartan all-too-interesting.

For personal or collaborative purposes, Spartan will allow you to add markings to any webpage. For example, you may want to highlight something for later referral, or call-out a headline or quote and share it with your colleagues. You'd also be able to add a note, similar to how you would in a Word document, and include that in your copy of that particular webpage. How all of this works exactly isn't entirely clear at the moment, so it'll be great once the feature hits one of the upcoming preview builds so that we can test it out.

Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana was a major part of this Windows 10 event, and I admit that at first, I scoffed at it. "I don't want to discuss things with my PC through voice", I said. But, I was ignorant of the fact that with proper integration, Cortana can still be extremely useful without the need to talk to your PC.

In an example given at the event, a restaurant webpage was visited, which Cortana already knew about thanks to her nonstop scouring of the Web. Sometimes, it's a little tough to just cut straight to the chase and find something as simple as operating hours. With a click, Cortana's information slides out in a bar, and tells you just that. But what about diet concerns? In another example, an ingredient was clicked on, and Cortana instantly provided nutritional information.

This is honestly something that has to be seen to be truly appreciated, so I'd recommend checking out the livestream found here and jump to the 1 hour mark.

Microsoft Project Spartan 02

Similar to the reading view modes on Apple's Safari and Amazon's Silk, Spartan will allow you to cut out the distractions on a webpage to read an article as if you were reading a book. This is something that would be especially useful if you wanted to save content for offline reading.

Overall, we can see that Microsoft is taking Spartan extremely seriously, and while the company hasn't come straight out and said that Internet Explorer is on its deathbed, it will truly have little reason to exist after the Windows 10 launch. The UI looks a lot better, and with the features mentioned above, it could become downright addictive to use.

Spartan is just a small sliver of what was talked about today, so I'd highly recommend checking out Brandon's in-depth look at everything else.