Report: Microsoft's Spartan browser due in next Windows 10 preview

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Microsoft is expected to release its "Project Spartan" lightweight browser in its next public preview of Windows 10, according to a report.

Microsoft plans to release the new Spartan browser soon, probably before the end of March, according to a report from The Verge.

The software giant showed off Spartan both in Redmond, at its Windows 10 event, as well as the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona. At MWC, Microsoft showed off the technology as a Windows 10 mobile app for phones, where Neil Broadley, a director of phones marketing at Microsoft, quickly demonstrated how the browser was ideal for reading long articles and reformatting them to make them easier to read.

Why this matters: An early build of Spartan will allow Web developers to check their compatibility with the new browser. Spartan was designed with modern Web apps in mind, so it's important those developers get a chance to play with the code. Developers who wish to start coding extensions for the new browser will also be able to start building against and check their code.

"It's designed to adapt to whatever device it's running on: a phone, a tablet, or a larger desktop PC," Broadley said. 

Windows 10 will ship with Spartan, but also Internet Explorer 11 to support legacy code.

In January, the principal feature of Spartan Microsoft demonstrated was the ability for users to mark up Web pages and share the markups with other users in a variety of ways. The markups can be made with digital pens on touch-screen devices that support their use, or more traditionally with a keyboard. Spartan will also be integrated with Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant.

The key, however, is that Spartan will eventually include extensions, the support for plug-in code that enables functionality not normally found within the browser itself. Microsoft’s IE team has not said whether the extensions it would support would be native to Internet Explorer, or if they would be shared with some other browser.

In the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview build, users can toggle a hidden flag in Internet Explorer to enable Spartan’s new Edge rendering engine, and its significant performance improvements over IE11’s existing engine. But that's not the "true" Spartan browser. The good news? The full experience is apparently coming soon.

Additional reporting by the IDG News Service.

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