Microsoft Is Reportedly Working On A Completely New Web Browser


Amit Chowdhry, Contributor

January 6, 2015

Microsoft is preparing to launch a new web browser with the release of the Windows 10 operating system, according to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. The new browser has the code-name “Spartan” and it will be less clunky than Microsoft Internet Explorer. Microsoft’s Spartan reportedly has a look and feel that resembles Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Fortunately for Internet Explorer fans, the flagship Microsoft web browser will not be phased out (yet).

Microsoft executives originally talked about revamping Internet Explorer to feel just like Chrome and Firefox, but that plan was scrapped in favor of a completely new browser. If the new browser gains traction, then Microsoft may eventually phase out Internet Explorer after several years. 

Microsoft Student Partner and developer of VLC for Windows Modern Thomas Nigro heard talks of a new Microsoft browser on the LiveTile podcast. Earlier this month, Nigro wrote a tweet saying: “Ok so Microsoft is about to launch a new browser that’s not Internet Explorer and will be the default browser in Windows 10. Wow.” Spartan will use the Microsoft Chakra JavaScript engine and Trident rendering engine instead of WebKit. WebKit powers Apple Safari and a fork of the layout engine software that is used in Google Chrome.

On August 14th, the Internet Explorer team participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session. The IE team was asked whether the browser will become available on iOS and Android. Their response was: “Right now, we’re focused on building a great mobile browser for Windows Phone and have made some great progress lately. So, no current plans for Android/iOS. We are committed to improving our own engine. We love the fact that the web was built on multiple competing (yet interoperable) platforms and believe that this is how it is going to move forward into the future!”

During the AMA, the Internet Explorer team was asked about whether a rebranding was considered. One of the Internet Explorer developers said that a rebranding was suggested internally and many ideas got kicked around. The name “Ultron” — which is the name of a villain character in Marvel comics — was considered, “but the lawyers said no.”

On September 30, 2014, Microsoft officially announced that its next operating system will be called Windows 10. Next month, Microsoft will be hosting a follow-up event in Redmond, Washington to discuss its touch interface and the plans for its tablets and smartphones that will run on Windows 10. There is a pretty good chance that Microsoft will showcase the new browser at that event, but it may not actually be available for testing until a future preview build.

Internet Explorer — which is included as part of Microsoft Windows — launched in 1995. Between 2002 and 2003, Microsoft Internet Explorer hit a browser marketshare of about 95%. However, Net Applications reports that Internet Explorer’s marketshare now sits at slightly more than 57%. Mozilla Firefox launched in 2002 and has a marketshare of over 12%. Google Chrome launched in 2008 and now has more than 20% marketshare. The Apple Safari and Google Browser apps lead the web browser marketshare on mobile devices.

Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella has been pushing the company to develop software for multiple platforms. For example, Microsoft launched free versions of its Office suite of apps on the iPhone in November. Microsoft also acquired Acompli this month, which is an e-mail management app for iOS and Android. Spartan is rumored to be compatible with Apple iOS and Google Android after it launches.

The information about Microsoft’s new web browser in this post may be subject to change since Microsoft has not officially announced plans for it. I will write an article about the new browser when I find out more about it.

What are your thoughts about Microsoft potentially creating a completely new browser? Let us know in the comments below!

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