Owners of select Lumia Windows Phones can take Project Spartan, the successor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser, for a spin after early
Project Spartan, considered a replacement for the company’s long-lived IE browser has been available to early testers of the upcoming Windows 10 operating system since March 30. Now, Lumia smartphone users can see how the experience holds up in a mobile context.
“You’ll still find Internet Explorer 11 as the default browser in this preview—in a later update, Project Spartan will be the only browser included on Windows phones,” Kyle Pflug, program manager for Project Spartan at Microsoft, wrote in a company blog post to prospective downloaders of build 10051 of the Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones. “Project Spartan can be found in the All Apps list, and you can pin it to the start screen yourself.”
While the software giant is seemingly distancing itself from IE and the ire that it has drawn from many in the Web development community, the browser will nonetheless live on for the sake of legacy business applications. In a statement last month, Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Operating Systems Group, assured organizations that the company “will continue to make it easy for our enterprise customers to make Internet Explorer 11 the default browser via group policy.”
Despite the move to a new form factor, the Web browsing experience will be similar to the PC version, Pflug suggested. “Project Spartan for phones has the same new rendering engine available on the desktop, with the same support for the latest standards and the same strong focus on interoperability with the modern Web.”
There are notable differences, each made to enhance browsing the Web on a mobile handset. “You’ll find that this build has our new design for our Windows phone version, with the address bar on top, and a small actions bar at the bottom,” Pflug wrote. “You’ll also find early versions of the mobile reading view and reading list. Other features will light up in future flights.”
In addition to Project Spartan, build 10051 also includes new mail and calendar apps, said Gabe Aul, general manager of the Operating Systems Group Data and Fundamentals team at Microsoft, in an April 10 announcement.
“These new apps bring a fresh UI, with a toggle to freely move between your email and calendar without returning to the Start screen,” stated Aul. “Outlook Mail includes customizable Swipe Gestures, letting you swipe right or left to take actions like delete, flag, move or mark as read/unread,” a feature available on the Acompli-based Outlook mobile apps for iOS and Android. Microsoft acquired Acompli, the San Francisco based developer of the popular email app of the same name, on Dec. 1 for an undisclosed amount.
An updated app switcher enables users to revisit recently used apps by holding the back button. Other new apps include Phone, Messaging and People, all improved with new visuals and streamlined interfaces. The new universal Maps app—”universal” apps are coded to run on multiple Windows 10 devices, including PCs, tablets and smartphones—is also making its debut on Windows smartphones with the first-ever integration of Bing and Nokia’s HERE maps in a single app for Windows.
As is typically the case with beta software, bugs abound. A full list of known issues, including a delayed release for the Lumia Icon handset, is available in this Blogging Windows post.