Microsoft’s Project Spartan: Lean and mean, makes its debut in Windows 10
Spartan’s Edge replaces IEs’ Trident rendering engine
The heart of Spartan is a new rendering engine, nicknamed Edge. It is designed to be much faster than IE’s dated Trident renderer. So far, benchmarks have validated Edge is already as fast or faster than Trident — even in the preview version. Using the two browsers side by side, it does seem like many complex pages load more quickly and cleanly with Spartan and Edge, although it is very hard to control for all the variables, including caching and the OS itself. Clearly one of the major goals for Microsoft is to stop people from deciding they need to load Chrome to get good Web performance. Another goal is to ship a browser that is as effective on small portable devices as it is on the desktop. In an extended browsing session, I didn’t find any sites that gave Spartan trouble, so that is a good sign.
Spartan is even simpler than Chrome
Spartan — at least in its current form — has even less options and clutter than Chrome. By default the interface consists of a multi-purpose address-and-search bar combined with glyphs for common commands, all located above the Web page content. This delivers on Joe Belfiore’s promise that the new browser would feature the Web content and not the browser UI. This is particularly helpful on low-resolutions screens — which make sense since Spartan is designed to run across all Windows 10 devices. On the high-resolution displays typical of most current desktops it is less important, but it is still nice not to have to fight through layers of clutter to interact with a page.
Page markup is a gamble by Microsoft
Microsoft is doubling down on its expertise in inking — and the active stylus of its Surface tablets — by making it simple to take notes and highlight text on Web pages. While a stylus isn’t essential to perform these actions, it is certainly helpful. Personally, I love using a stylus with tablets and computers, and like the idea of scribbling on Web pages. Realistically though, I’m not sure this feature will see much use.
Spartan’s settings are worth visiting
By default, Spartan does not block any cookies, or send do-not-track requests. So you may want to visit its settings and change the defaults. At the same time you’ll notice that Spartan has a full-fledged developer window, much like Firebug or the developer capabilities built-in to Chrome. You can also re-enable your Favorites bar from IE. All in all, Spartan has a lot of promise as a replacement for the browser many people have grown weary of.