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What is 'Spartan'?

By Salehuddin Bin Husin - on 30 Dec 2014, 10:37am

What is 'Spartan'?

It's not the end of IE, but it may mean a shift in priorities.

This week, the rumor mill spins us another tale about Microsoft and their new browser. Notice we said, new browser, not Internet Explorer 12.

If the rumor is correct, Microsoft is prepping another browser to accompany the upcoming Windows 10. Like most recent Microsoft projects, this one too has a Halo name, Spartan. For those who don't know Halo, a Spartan is the name of the type of super soldiers in the series.The naming convention falls in line with Microsoft's quirk of naming their projects after references in Halo. Previously, we've heard the terms Arcadia (named for a location Halo Wars) being used for an as yet undisclosed project, as well as voice command program Cortana (named after the A.I. in Halo).

The rumors go on to point out that Spartan is a lightweight browser, with extension support similar to Chrome or Firefox. Windows 10 will reportedly launch with two browsers, Internet Explorer 11 and Spartan. The inclusion of Internet Explorer 11 is supposedly just to maintain compatibility with older websites.

Although there's supposed to be another version of Internet Explorer coming for Windows 10, the main focus is on Spartan. It will reportedly not only work for desktops, but also on mobile devices and (we suspect) the Xbox One as well. The Xbox One currently uses a customized version of Internet Explorer (as well as Bing) to browse the internet on the console. Since it's Microsoft's strategy to unify all its disparate systems (Windows, Windows Mobile, Xbox Live) into one easily accessible ecosystem, expect Internet Explorer on the Xbox One to be phased out in favor of Spartan as well.

Other details regarding the browser are scarce, although Spartan will reportedly also make use of Microsoft's Chakra JavaScript engine, like some versions of Internet Explorer do. Spartan will also reportedly be running Trident behind the scenes, similar to Internet Explorer but a more customized version. This dovetails with what's been floating around the net regarding Trident development being split off into two directions.

We're not questioning Microsoft's strategy of having two browsers (perhaps the browsers are catered for different types, with Spartan towards the more tech savvy group and IE for those who prefer the familar), but we're wondering if one of them will receive more attention than the other. Spartan's not even out yet, but it's already gaining more interest than Internet Explorer 12. With the stigma (buggy and tons of security loopholes) many people have over the Internet Explorer name, maybe it's time to put the IE name out to pasture and make way for the future.

One last thing to consider, could Spartan be integrated with Microsoft's rumored VR headset? The company's been on a kick to increase awareness of Windows 10 and how it's a massive step up from previous Windows. What better way to hype it up and show off its uniqueness than to use 3D navigation? Again, remember the branching off of Trident we mentioned earlier? Why would the engine need branching off into two separate versions if both browsers did similar things? It probably wouldn't, at least not for typical browser functions like ActiveX or JavaScript. But throw in the possibility that one of those versions of Trident might be used in VR navigation, and it might start to make sense.

Source: ZDnet