Microsoft’s Lightweight ‘Spartan’ Browser UI Leaked, Innovative Features Revealed

After having its name besmirched following the release of Windows Vista, Microsoft hit it out of the park with its follow-up: Windows 7. Microsoft then developed Windows 8 to appease two distinct markets — PCs and tablets — with one operating system, resulting in significant backlash from critics and consumers.

Microsoft hopes to distance itself from Windows 8.x not just in name (notice how they skipped Windows 9), but by also ensuring that PC users are not left in the cold to accommodate tablet users (and vice versa). Windows 10 will bring with it a wealth of new functionality to users, including the lightweight ‘Spartan’ Internet browser that we first told you about in late December. Spartan is tipped to take cues from Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, and will make heavy use of an extensions system.

We’re now learning some additional information about Spartan courtesy of The Verge. Spartan will reportedly feature OneDrive-based inking functionality, which will allow users to annotate web pages using a stylus, and share them with friends and colleagues. In addition, Spartan is said to integrate directly with Microsoft Cortana, which will make an appearance in Windows 10 after first debuting on the Windows Phone platform.

spartan browser

“Microsoft is planning to use Cortana to surface information on flights, hotel bookings, package tracking, and other data within the traditional address bar,” The Verge reports. “If you use Cortana to track a particular flight and start to search for ‘American Airlines’ in the browser address bar, it will automatically display tracked flights and allow Spartan users to view the status of the flight directly.”

As we previously reported, the introduction of Spartan doesn’t mean that the venerable Internet Explorer is getting the boot. Internet Explorer will still stick around as the default Internet browser, but Spartan will be available as a download from the Windows Store for anyone that’s willing to try it out. Spartan will also be made available for tablets and smartphones, with The Verge pointing out that the “look and feel of Spartan [will be] very similar across phones, tablets, and PCs.”

In addition, cnBeta has managed to grab a picture of Spartan in action (seen above). Although we can’t really gather much from a single image, we can see the rather minimalistic interface for Spartan, which is definitely giving me some Chrome vibes (in a good way).

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Windows 10 Technical Preview

Windows 10 is currently available as a Technical Preview for anyone to try, and Microsoft is expected to give us more details on Windows 10 — and likely Spartan for PCs, tablets, and smartphones — at an event scheduled for January 21.