Internet Explorer Replacement Gets Thumbs Up

John Lister's picture

More ambitious users of trial versions of Windows 10 have now got their hands on the replacement for Internet Explorer. The consensus is that it still needs work, but displays some impressive new features.

The new browser is codenamed Spartan, though that may not be the final name. It will be the default browser in Windows 10, with Internet Explorer only available by going through the Accessories section of the Programs menu. Internet Explorer is only being included for the sake of compatibility with very old websites that use outdated technology. (Source:

For the first time, Spartan is now available for people who are signed up to the most advanced version of the Windows 10 testing program. The Windows 10 Technical Preview provides the first look at features when they are still in an early, potentially unreliable test stage.

New Browser Adds Clean Look, New Features

As expected, Spartan has a similar minimalist interface to Google Chrome, with only a limited number of buttons and icons shown by default and the emphasis put firmly on the web pages themselves.

The browser includes several new features for Microsoft's browsers including a Reading Mode, similar to those found on many mobile-based browsers. The optional mode takes the content on a web page and shows it in a simplified layout on a slightly-shaded background, making the experience more like reading a book. It's designed for pages with a lot of text such as lengthy articles.

Other features include easy one-click options for sharing a link to the current page, for example through an email or Facebook / Twitter post, even when the website itself doesn't include such a feature. There's also some integration with Cortana, the voice-activated "personal assistant" in Windows 10, though this seems somewhat limited in the initial test version.

Another new feature is Web Notes, which lets you use a virtual pencil to highlight sections of a page and add notes, then share them with friends. It's designed to be the web equivalent of scribbling on a magazine page or other document before passing it on.

Early Spartan Reviews Cautiously Positive

Most early hands-on reviews of Spartan suggest it works well and has few, if any, of the expected compatibility problems with older websites. Technical tests suggest that in its current form it is a little slower than Internet Explorer 11, but faster than many rival browsers. (Source:

That said, few people realize Internet Explorer 11 is such a strong technical performer. That's because the Internet Explorer brand name has become tarnished, which is exactly why Microsoft felt the need to start again with Spartan.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you currently use Internet Explorer or a rival browser? If you've ditched Internet Explorer, will you give Spartan a try as and when you get Windows 10? Do any of the new features intrigue you and is raw performance such as speed in loading page enough to win your over?

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