March 31, 2015 weblog
Windows Insiders can try out Project Spartan browser
Microsoft has opened up the (literal) windows, called in creatives, and has been engineering a next-generation browser. Project Spartan is to reflect the general mood of fresh air at Redmond. Although "Project Spartan" carries the word "Project," it is not to be taken as a here-today-gone-tomorrow event; Project Spartan is a big deal, as the new browser which is introduced in Windows 10.
Microsoft's Joe Belfiore blogged on Monday: "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." Belfiore also said "features are still in an early, incomplete state:" He said that Project Spartan will be regularly updated, with the team engaging with customers and partners.
Tom Warren, a senior editor for The Verge and resident Microsoft expert, said, "Windows 10 testers can now download a new build (10049) that will include the Project Spartan browser. If you're already running a preview version of Windows 10 then it's available immediately from Windows Update, otherwise you can join the Windows Insider program to test Project Spartan and Windows 10."
Blogging about the preview Build 10049 that is now available, Gabe Aul of Microsoft said "this means that today's release includes the new Project Spartan browser and you'll get to use it for the first time on PCs as it begins to show up across the Windows 10 device family." He said, "This build is pretty much all about Project Spartan, so we hope you enjoy getting your hands on it for the first time. As with all other new features we've introduced, we have a ton of work left to do with Spartan so expect to see some bugs and rough edges in this first preview."
With Project Spartan, the focus is on the page, not the browser. A promotional video said "We needed to start fresh with something we could be more innovative with." A program manager said that at Microsoft "we are at this moment where we have been able to be more innovative than ever."
To be sure, the words "new" and "innovative" run through the video. David Sheldon, principal software engineer lead, noted it has a feature of being able to write on the web and that is a fundamentally "exciting experience." Warren in The Verge said "One of Spartan's more impressive features is the ability to annotate notes with a pen. While recently leaked builds of Spartan didn't feature this, today's preview will include this new Web Notes function. You can write or type directly on to a webpage, and share the comments through email, social networks, or through OneDrive." Belfiore talked of new "inking" capabilities, where Project Spartan enables you to write or type directly on the page, comment on what's interesting or clip what you want – then share this "Web Note" via mail or asocial network. You can save notes directly to OneNote. As for reading view mode, the content is to fit well for the device you are on.
The project wants feedback. A page called "The Project Spartan Feature Suggestion Box" provides a user community with a channel for feedback. "To help us build the best browser ever, we created this forum to hear your ideas, suggestions and feedback." The Box feedback has a comment from someone concerned about the browser's name, saying to "please keep Spartan once the new browser is released to the public."
Peter Bright, technology editor at Ars Technica, said that "This is the first public outing for the new browser, with its reduced, Chrome-like interface and Cortana integration."
Nonetheless, Microsoft will accommodate its business customers by continuing to offer Explorer. Blogged Belfiore: "At the same time, we recognize that for some of our enterprise customers, it's important they have the support they need and can continue to use Internet Explorer when and where they need it. 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. Internet Explorer 11 is supported on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 for all customers, also providing a consistent platform that's great for enterprise Web apps."
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