Next-Gen IE's New Look Spotted in Microsoft Spartan Leak

Big changes are in store for the Windows 10 Web browsing experience, according to a batch of new leaks.

Internet Explorer 11

Windows 10 is shaping up to be a big departure from Windows 8.x, apart from the return of the Start menu and new features like multiple desktop support.

Microsoft is reportedly working on a new Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser, code-named "Spartan," for the 2015 release of Windows 10 operating system. Initial leaks indicate that the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker is taking a page from the playbooks of Google and Mozilla.

New images acquired by the Website Neowin offer some telling, albeit blurry, evidence that Microsoft is taking a Chrome- and Firefox-like approach to Spartan's user interface (UI). The pictures, apparently snapped from a computer monitor or device display, show hints of a largely unadorned, minimalist look that emphasizes Web content and aligns with the company's flat UI design approach.

Forward, back and refresh icons make an appearance alongside a streamlined URL bar. A new reading mode icon renders online content in an uncluttered, easy-to-read format. A share icon, similar to the one that currently appears in Windows 8.1's charms bar, provides integrated email and social sharing media options. Replacing IE 11's gear-inspired icon for tools and preferences is an ellipsis (…).

In another break from the past, Spartan sticks to Microsoft's new tradition of frameless Windows.

The browser is "borderless," according to the report, resulting in Web pages and apps that virtually occupy the entire window in much the same style of modern Windows (formerly Metro) apps. All UI elements reside at the top of the Spartan browser.

At first blush, performance appears to be on the "snappy" side. Users will be able to test the new version of IE against Websites if and when it arrives in a Windows 10 preview build.

As the Web browser component of Microsoft's upcoming OS, Spartan is integral to Microsoft's plan to get businesses, many of which have skipped Windows 8.x, back on board.

The company is pouring a lot of resources into making Windows 10 a business-friendly OS, revealed Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's Operating Systems group. "This will be our most comprehensive operating system and the best release Microsoft has ever done for our business customers, and we look forward to working together with our broader Windows community to bring Windows 10 to life in the months ahead," he said in a Sept. 30 statement.

Spartan is also a chance for the company to shed IE's reputation as a browser that's behind the times.

Last summer, Microsoft's IE engineering team discussed the work it is doing to modernize the browser and appeal to Web developers during a Reddit AMA ("Ask me anything") question and answer session. "We've been working on standards-based features since IE 8, but admittedly, older versions of IE brought baggage, which developers had to continue to support, and in some cases, they continued to leverage," said Microsoft Developer Advocate Rey Bango. "We've worked hard to deprecate a lot of that (e.g.: DXFilters), but changing mindsets isn't easy," he continued, before stating that the company had already started down that path with IE 11.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...