Windows Insiders, members of Microsoft's beta testing program, can finally get some hands-on time with Project Spartan, the company's next-generation Web browser.
"Today, we're excited to announce that Project Spartan is available for the first time for Windows Insiders to try out as part of the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview build for PCs," said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of the Operating Systems Group at Microsoft, in a March 30 announcement. Project Spartan is available in build 10049 of the operating system, which is set to be released this summer.
For Microsoft, Project Spartan represents a break from the past. Featuring a new Web rendering engine, the browser marks a mobile-friendly departure from Internet Explorer (IE) and its legacy-preserving limitations, which have been criticized for fragmenting the development community and stymieing innovation on the Web.
Project Spartan is not only a new browser, but also emblematic of the Redmond, Wash., software giant's new approach to the Web, according to Belfiore.
During the development process, "... we took a hard look at everything we were doing with the browser—from the way we engineered it, to the way we designed the user experience, to the way we approached compatibility and interoperability, to the way we interacted with our customers and Web developers, to the way we released it," he stated in his blog post. "This led us to believe we needed to step forward into a new era of browsing at Microsoft" and create a browser "designed for the modern Web."
Microsoft isn't abandoning businesses with legacy Web applications, assured Belfiore. "This is why we will continue to make it easy for our enterprise customers to make Internet Explorer 11 the default browser via group policy," he said.
Users who load up build 10049 will be able to try Project Spartan's new features, although Belfiore cautioned that they "are still in an early, incomplete state." These include Cortana, Microsoft's virtual assistant, which first debuted on Windows Phone 8.1.
"She remains in the background but provides additional information when you need it, making browsing easier and more efficient," said Belfiore. "Cortana in Spartan will be available in the U.S. versions of this build, and available more broadly later."
Project Spartan also features integration with OneNote, Microsoft's free note-taking app, complete with stylus-based inking support. "Project Spartan enables you to write or type directly on the page, comment on what's interesting or clip what you want—then easily share this 'Web Note' via mail, or a social network," noted Belfiore. "Researching and collecting information from the Web is just as easy, as you can save your notes directly to OneNote."
Finally, the new Reading List and Reading View features allow users to time-shift their online content consumption, added Belfiore. "Project Spartan helps with a beautiful new Reading List to collect everything you want to read, including the ability to save any webpage or PDF for convenient access later, and an integrated, distraction-free Reading View that keeps you focused on the content."
Apart from Project Spartan, build 10049 of the Windows 10 preview fixes some issues that cropped up in build 10041, including the Photos app crashing bug. The newest version also prevents users from getting stuck during the initial setup if they manually lock their PCs (Windows Key + L).