New Microsoft Web Browser Is Codenamed Spartan, Alternative To Internet Explorer Expected With Windows 10

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Dec 31, 2014 11:29 AM EST

It seems Microsoft is finally developing an alternative to Internet Explorer, with a new web browser expected in its next operating system.

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According to sources speaking with ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, the new Spartan web browser will not be the next iteration of the unpopular IE, but a new program altogether. The sources say that Windows 10 will ship with both Spartan and the current Internet Explorer 11 as a backwards compatible option.

That would potentially make IE 11 the last new version of the long-running browser, if Spartan (likely still just a codename) is successful. There had been rumors that Microsoft was updating IE to be more like Chrome and Firefox, the browsers that have pulled the market out from underneath IE, but those developments instead appear be manifesting as Spartan, not just a new version.

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As the article points out, a Reddit AMA by Microsoft employees hinted at the potential change in branding. IE certainly has an established name and identity, but much of the connotation is unfortunately negative--something Microsoft is eager to get rid of. According to Foley, Spartain will use Microsoft's Chakra JavaScript engine and Microsoft's Trident rendering engine, with the latter expected to be markedly different from that used in IE 11.

Some technical similarities aside, Spartan is meant to take Microsoft browsers on a new, light-weight path to compete with its competition. Spartan is expected to be available for both desktop and mobile use, and it remains to be seen if Microsoft will spread the new browser to non-Microsoft platforms such as iOS or Android. Foley notes that the company stated it has no plans to bring IE to other platforms, but Spartan is shaping up to be a different animal entirely.

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