Microsoft Simplifies Windows 10 Web Browser Strategy

Posted on March 24, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 0 Comments


And no, they’re not going to a one browser plan: despite constant rumors that Microsoft will “kill” Internet Explorer, the software giant will still ship both IE and “Project Spartan” in its new OS. But this week, something has changed. And it makes a bit more sense than the original plan.

Microsoft announced its new web browser, still code-named “Project Spartan,” back in January at the Windows 10 Technical Preview 2 event. At that time, it said that Spartan would be powered by a new rendering engine that would work better with modern web sites and apps than does the IE rendering engine. But to provide compatibility with legacy (i.e. business) web sites, Spartan would “load the IE 11 engine … providing both a strong compatibility guarantee for legacy enterprise web sites and a forward looking interoperable web standards promise.”

Likewise, “Internet Explorer [would] use the same dual rendering engines as Spartan, ensuring web developers can consistently target the latest web standards.”

Complicated? You bet. It’s also not happening anymore.

Today, Microsoft announced a more common-sense approach to web browsing in Windows 10. Yes, it will still ship with two web browsers, IE 11 and “Project Spartan,” as before. But now, each browser will work differently.

“Project Spartan” will host Microsoft’s new browser rendering engine exclusively. It will not provide the legacy IE 11 browser rendering engine as well.

Internet Explorer 11 will remain fundamentally unchanged from Windows 8.1, continuing to host the legacy engine exclusively. It will not offer the new Spartan browser rendering engine.

The “why” of this change is obvious enough: the old system was too complex. According to Microsoft, “Project Spartan” has worked quite well with modern web sites, so the legacy engine isn’t needed for compatibility. And by cutting the new stuff out of IE 11, it will work consistently with IE on older Windows versions, which businesses will appreciate.

And while IE isn’t going away any time soon, Microsoft made it obvious that Spartan is the future. It will also be the “default browser for all Windows 10 customers,” supplanting IE for the first time since, well, there was an IE.

I look forward to IE being removed from Windows. No, not because of any residual dislike of the product, but because I’ve rarely seen anything as dumb as having two different browsers ship with Windows. And that’s as true of Windows 10 as it was of Windows 8 (which had two “flavors” of IE, one for desktop and one for Modern). Walking away from that legacy will be nice.


BTW: My guess/vote for the final name of the new browser is Microsoft Spartan.

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