Microsoft Spartan - What do We Know Right Now?

Today Microsoft finally announced Spartan, a 'new' browser. As many of you know I am an Internet Explorer User Agent, which means I get wind of IE related things a little early. In case I know very little in the ways of details. We are going to find out more at a future time of course. What I do know I may not be able to tell the details, yet. Based on what I have read in the leaks and what was announced yesterday I think this is more of a re-branding exercise. Writing a browser engine takes an enormous engineering effort and I do not think Microsoft wants to do that. The current engine is much more robust today than it gets credit, so a new effort would be a waste of money in my opinion.

Here some quick links to some leak articles that might shed some light. To be honest this is where I heard the speculation of a new browser first.

-Chrome Extensions?

-Spartan Browser Leaks

But I have been trying to piece together what I think is going on from these articles and the official IE team blog. The inside information I have up to this point does not add much color beyond these sources.

Not Really a new Browser

As several articles I have read allude too Spartan uses Trident (HTML/CSS) and Chakra (JavaScript) but has some legacy stuff stripped out. When I say stripped out I mean support for features becomes deprecated, this is inevitable. The IE team, like any other good product team pays attention to what is going on in the world as it relates to their product. For example CSS expressions have not been supported for a while now. Also features become unnecessary as time goes on and those are removed. In their place new features and standards support is added and updated. Just like a professional sport teams, players age and the team's makeup changes from year to year.

From what I have read and saw in today's announcements the UI is getting a big overhaul. The stream I was watching hung a couple of times so it was hard to follow the demonstration. I think Microsoft is taking advantage of a major UI overhaul to call the browser something new, right now it is Spartan. I hope this sticks, but I am sure the lawyers will change that before Windows 10 ships, sadly.

This re-branding exercise is probably a good idea because I think Microsoft as a whole is trying to re-brand themselves as a new company, and shake the impression of the past. The world has changed a lot in the past decade because technology and the way we use it has completely shifted. Microsoft has quietly taken advantage of this shift and produced some great technology. Up to this point it does feel like they have not been leaders, but I think Halolens will change that.

What About Developers?

Nothing public has been announced. I have read leaks about Chrome extension support, which is cool. I am sure there will be more Standards supported, which you can follow at The developer tools will continue to update, etc. We have also read about IE making the web just work by supporting popular APIs and features of other browsers. I have mixed feelings about this, I think it is good, and I hope Chrome will change their minds and support great features like Pointer Events soon.

Developers should stop writing code to support legacy versions, like IE 8 today. Enterprise mode is a key strategy in the Windows Enterprise puzzle. Internet Explorer is the only browser that provides a way for legacy applications to still function without a complete rewrite. Providing a great modern experience, with isolated legacy support Internet Explorer and Windows is the choice for enterprises. Chrome, Safari and FireFox have nothing available to match something like enterprise mode. Support for the old, within the secure walls of today, what a powerful feature.


Today's announcements were thin as it relates to Internet Explorer & Spartan. I hope Spartan ships with next weeks Windows 10 technology preview so I can report more soon. Stay tuned for more is all I can say. It is a great time to be a web developer.

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