IT'S HERE! After months of waiting, Microsoft has finally rolled out a preview build with the new Spartan Web browser baked-in. Was it worth the wait? Well, that depends entirely on whether or not you were actually anticipating it. For some, it will be another browser they'll ignore, and admittedly, even after I played around with it for a bit, I'll go back to my trusty Chrome (well, it's almost hard to call it 'trusty' nowadays.)
As surprising as it might sound, there's actually not too much to talk about at this point, because we already learned about all of the features packed into Spartan at the end of January. It is important to note that everything (I can think of, at least) is here, such as Cortana integration, distraction-free reading, and inking abilities.
Speaking of inking abilities, you can see the results below. With this feature, you're able to choose a pen and take notes, or use a highlighter tool for taking care of the obvious. Both of these are available in multiple colors, and work just as you'd expect. One thing I'd like to see, though, is the highlighter tool "snap" to the text that you're highlighting. Right now, it's very free-form, and doesn't look that clean.
Once you've finished drawing up a page, you'll have to save it to use it again in the future. This in effect creates an offline copy of the page, which to me isn't really an ideal solution (it means things like comment sections will not be updated). Given today's cloud capabilities, it'd be great if this could simply save the information there, and then reload automatically when you're on the same page. Of course, that wouldn't fare too well given websites can update and render the inking useless, but this feature doesn't strike me as one that people will use with the intent of referring to the cached copies years down the road.
The video below highlights this inking feature and a couple of others that we've discussed in the past.
It's been unclear up to this point what the final name of Project Spartan will be, but given how Microsoft talks about the name on its latest blog post, it gives me the feeling that it could simply be called "Spartan" at release. After all, it seems like it's a name most people don't mind, so I am not sure why the company would want to risk choosing another name and have it fall flat.
Nonetheless, it's great to finally see the browser in the preview build. If you're interested in giving it a go, be sure to change your preview build update to "Fast", and then let it upgrade you to build 10049.